Denice Degenhardt’s philosophy is “teaching for life by giving hope and help to struggling children and their families,” and she is putting it into practice at Sunflower’s Early Education Center (EEC).
Degenhardt, who was raised in Barton County and graduated from Hoisington High School, is providing early intervention for children under 3 with a developmental delay or disability. She brings a varied professional and educational background to the position.
After graduating from college, Degenhardt spent 15 years working as a missionary teacher in the Amazon region of Brazil. She returned to the United States in 2006.
“My work experience and training have focused on special education,” Degenhardt said. “The early ed center is a great place for my teaching philosophy because it is a family-based program. I look forward to getting out into the community and providing support, encouragement and resources in families’ homes.”
In addition to her traditional special education training, Degenhardt has received instruction in the autism spectrum and Teach & Search intervention tool.
She completed her master’s degree in Adaptive Special Education last spring and is currently enrolled at Fort Hays State University in its Early Childhood Unified Program.
Cathy Estes, EEC coordinator, noted Degenhardt will help screen and evaluate children, in addition to making home visits.
“Her comprehensive experience allows for early intervention, specifically for children with difficulty in the affective/emotional domain,” Estes said. “Denice helps us complete our diversified team of experts to meet all early intervention needs.”
This team includes three other teachers, two speech pathologists and a physical therapist.
“Denice also has a talent for organization and working with the public,” Estes commented. “This will assist our staff with community collaboration and activities within the early childhood network. Her passion for providing resources and encouragement to those with challenges is a great asset to the EEC.”
The EEC is one of 37 tiny-k networks in Kansas serving infants and toddlers, age birth to 5. The non-profit’s service area is Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.