As Mayra Reyes pursued her education in early childhood development, she realized she not only wanted to help children, she wanted to assist their families too. And the best way to do that locally, she learned, was to work at Sunflower Diversified’s Early Education Center (EEC).
As a result, Reyes is the new early intervention specialist at the EEC, 1312 Patton, Great Bend.
Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays.
“I can have a positive impact on whole families,” Reyes said. “Most of my day is spent interacting with children in their natural environments. This is often in their own homes but we also go to daycare centers or any other setting where the youngsters are comfortable.
“This allows me to understand the family and environmental dynamics, which is crucial,” she added. “The more we understand a child’s day-to-day life, the more we can help.”
Reyes, who was born and raised in Mexico, brings an extra dimension to her new job. She not only speaks fluent Spanish, she understands the culture in which it is spoken.
“I can be much more than a translator. I can connect with families by understanding the cultural differences between Mexico and the United States,” she said.
She has lived in the U.S. for eight years, all of them in Great Bend.
Reyes, like other EEC staff members, concentrate on helping children with speech and language, along with cognitive, fine-motor and gross-motor skills. In addition, social and emotional assistance is becoming increasingly important.
“We set milestones for a child after talking with parents,” Reyes explained. “The family’s priority is our priority.”
Reyes earned an associate’s degree in early childhood at Barton Community College two years ago. She is currently working toward her bachelor’s degree in early childhood unified at Fort Hays State University, with a minor in psychology.
Cathy Estes, children’s program coordinator, said she and the EEC staff couldn’t be more pleased with Reyes.
“Mayra came to us well recommended,” Estes said. “She had worked for Head Start and made quite an impression there. Most important, she has the heart for this job – for helping families, which is what we are all about.
“She has been here only a short while and already is the primary provider for four families,” Estes said, adding her caseload will grow.
Sunflower, which is in its 48thyear, serves people in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. The non-profit agency’s EEC is part of the tiny-k network in Kansas and all its services are free.