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New teachers bring expertise, energy, to Sunflower Early Ed Center
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McKinley Phillips, left, and Blythe Zimmerman take a break with Braxton after enjoying some outdoor activities. The women are new teachers at Sunflowers Early Education Center. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Two Barton County women are bringing energy and professional skills to their new teaching positions at the Sunflower Diversified Services Early Education Center (EEC). Blythe Zimmerman is from Ellinwood and McKinley Phillips is a Great Bend native.
The new early childhood special education teachers are making two or three home visits a day in Sunflower’s service area. Their priorities are conducting evaluations, and interacting with children to enhance cognitive and motor skills.
“We can evaluate the children in their home settings,” Zimmerman said. “This includes interactions with children and their families as we work on a variety of skills during activities such as reading and solving puzzles.”
Zimmerman is no stranger to the EEC; she did two internships there while earning her 2012 bachelor’s degree in early childhood unified at Fort Hays State University. She is certified to teach elementary and special education from birth to age 8.
“Sunflower’s EEC does a great job of getting children ready for preschool,” Zimmerman said. “I have always been impressed with the organization and am eager to build on this solid foundation.”
Phillips echoed many of Zimmerman’s comments, noting she also is impressed with the EEC and its staff.
“The early ed center is an exceptional organization,” Phillips said. “It has a long track record of giving children a running start into preschool. We are all working well together to ensure that our youngsters and their families get the support and services they need.”
Phillips has a bachelor’s degree in education from Lindenwood University at St. Charles, Mo., as well as degrees in elementary education and special education. She is licensed in elementary and special education in Kansas and Missouri, and is starting on her master’s in early childhood special education.
Shelby Ringering, coordinator of the EEC and Sunflower’s Incredible Years Preschool, said she is excited to have both new teachers on staff.
“Blythe and McKinley are young and full of energy,” Ringering said. “They are bringing a fresh new perspective to supporting children and their families. We are very excited to have them here as we usher in a new chapter at the EEC.”
Ringering also noted that both new teachers are qualified to provide the full range of Sunflower’s early-education services.
“Some children have a slight speech delay, while others have more severe physical and/or developmental disabilities,” Ringering said. “McKinley and Blythe are well trained in the whole gamut of delays and disabilities, which can include lack of motor skills and blindness. In short, they can help children from birth to age 3 with mild to severe problems.”
Sunflower serves babies, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
It is a non-profit agency and its EEC services are free. For more information, call 620-792-4087.