The Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center (ECC) staff members are extremely proud of our legacy and the journey that our programs and building structure has taken in order for us to be leaders in early childhood education. We feel privileged to offer parents excellence in early childhood programming that focuses on safety, care, development, and kindergarten readiness. Currently, the Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center houses the district community preschool programs, the Kenowa Hills Daycare and Learning Center (with the before and after school care included), Great Start Readiness preschool, and the early childhood special education programs. We have over two hundred 2 to 5 year-old children participating in these programs. The transition into creating this amazing child-centered environment from where we started was not always easy, but we know that we have always and will continue to serve this community.
We welcome all of our families both new and historical to stop in to say hello. Additionally, we are always looking for ways that we can improve our service and seek your feedback. Please let us know your thoughts. We are not in this journey without you.
The history of the Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center is quite interesting. The school building as well as it's purpose has seen many changes since the original construction. When the town of Walker was still covered in pine and maple forests, settlers of the Walker area purchased some land from the state. Using axes, tools, and driving wagons, they cleared the land and built houses for their families.
In 1846, John Condon gave one-quarter acre of land for public school use at what was in the area of the 3600 block of Richmond Rd. The community carpenters built a simple one-room school with a steep roof and small windows. The blackboards were made of wood and painted black. The room was heated by a wood-burning stove and the desks were homemade benches. The children used slates for writing because paper was too costly at the time. The boundaries on the district were established at the Ottawa County line on the west, one half mile north and one half mile south of what was Richmond Road, and one half mile east to Haisma Rd.
In 1876, the Centennial year of Independence, another one-quarter acre was purchased by the district. They built a frame school of white clap board with a stone foundation, a belfry, and a round oak stove. The school year was divided into three terms- two months in the fall, four months in the winter and two months in the spring. Most of the male students were too busy harvesting, cutting wood, and planting to attend the fall and spring terms, but in the winter attendance reached over fifty students. The curriculum focused on bookkeeping, higher mathematics, and preliminary teacher training.
In 1918, a fire caused by a defective chimney destroyed the original building. It was voted to move the school-site closer to the population center at the time to the current location on land purchased from Thomas Nolan. The new school consisted of one room, a basement with a coal furnace, inside plumbing, and new seats.
By 1925, the attendance increased to a point where the basement had to be remodeled for the lower grades. Again in 1948, more rooms were needed and the upper room was divided into two classrooms. In 1951, again due to expansion, it was decided that new construction was required to meet the needs of enrollment and upgrades. The old frame-school that was built in 1918 was demolished and a new four-classroom school was constructed to accommodate the growing district in 1952. The new Walker Station Elementary School included some office space for administrative purposes. In 1957, three more classrooms were added plus additional office space. In 1970, there was an additional seven classrooms added with the gym, kitchen, library, and reconfigured main office space creating the current building at 3971 Richmond Court. In 2012, the district reconfigured the early childhood programs district-wide placing them all at Walker Station Elementary School and moved the upper grade levels to the other district elementary buildings. At that time, the building was renamed the Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center and has been serving in this capacity since.