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Gonzalez, Wondra join Sunflowers Early Ed Center
Home visits important for special needs children
biz mlee Sunflower early ed Wondra Gonzalez
The new early-intervention specialists at Sunflowers Early Education Center interact with children and a parent during a Learn and Play Group. At left is Kristin Wondra and next to her is Monica Gonzalez, who is holding Eric Weathers. Kristopher Lovett is on the floor next to his mother, Kristi Lovett. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO




Two new early-intervention specialists have rounded out the full-time staff at Sunflower’s Early Education Center, 1312 Patton. Monica Gonzalez and Kristin Wondra specialize in making personal visits to the homes of children with special needs.

Gonzalez actually began working at the EEC a few months ago as a part-time Spanish language interpreter and translator. While she retains those duties, she also is working with families.

"I enjoy meeting with the families and helping evaluate their children’s special needs," Gonzalez said. "We check for a variety of milestones to ensure the youngsters are getting the EEC services they need and deserve."

The EEC evaluates needs in several categories, including cognitive, self-help, physical, language and social/emotional.

Wondra also meets families in their home environments, which is often the best place to determine a child’s needs.

"When we see the babies and toddlers in their own environments, we are better able to advise parents," Wondra explained. "This job is so rewarding because we can see the children grow, develop and hit the milestones they are supposed to be hitting."

Gonzalez, who moved here from California, is enrolled in early childhood education classes at Barton Community College, working toward a degree. She graduated from Great Bend’s Adult Education Center in 2009 and lives in Great Bend.

Wondra is also working toward her degree in early childhood/special education at BCC. She was born in Great Bend and returned to central Kansas from Texas. Wondra is a 2008 graduate of Quivira Heights High School and now resides in Hoisington.

"All of us here are really excited about the contributions from both Monica and Kristin," EEC Coordinator Cathy Estes said. "They both have the heart for the job and also are committed to their academic education.

"Monica brings a special expertise to the job because she has four children of her own," Estes added. "She comes with the gift for working with families and knowing what it feels like to be a mom."

The Sunflower Diversified Services EEC serves babies and toddlers up to age 3 in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is one of 37 tiny-k networks in Kansas.

For more information about its free services, call 620-792-4087.