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Prieto joins Sunflowers early ed team; brings bilingual skills
edu mlee sunflower-early-ed-prieto
Stephanie Prieto helps little Annalise Perez overcome some speech issues. Prieto is the new bilingual early intervention specialist at Sunflowers Early Education Center.

     The new early intervention specialist at Sunflower Diversified’s Early Education Center (EEC) brings a love of children and bilingual expertise to her new position.
    Stephanie Prieto, a long-time Great Bend resident, recently joined the EEC team that serves infants and toddlers, age birth to 3.
    “I have always enjoyed working with youngsters, especially babies,” Prieto said. “Before I came to Sunflower, I worked at Barton County Academy as a day-care provider.
    “I love teaching and watching kids learn their numbers, colors, ABCs and new songs,” she continued. “It is especially gratifying to be at the early ed center because I see children with disabilities and/or delays learn new things each day.”
    Prieto also noted that her ability to speak Spanish allows her to bring a high level of care to non-English speaking families.
    “Being able to speak with parents and others in their native language helps me better meet their needs,” Prieto said.
     Prieto and other staff members visit children regularly in their natural environments – whether at their homes, day-care centers or other community settings.
“This personal interaction allows us to provide information and strategies to help parents teach their children in comfortable surroundings,” the early intervention specialist commented. “It is amazing what children can learn when we become partners with their families.”
    Prieto is currently attending Barton Community College to work toward her bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education.
    She has lived in Great Bend for 18 years; Prieto and her husband, Arturo, have a son, Yaviel, 1, and a daughter, Ashley, 2 months.
    Cathy Estes, Sunflower children’s services coordinator, said the EEC is fortunate to have someone of Prieto’s caliber on the team.
    “Stephanie is very kind and has a smile that lights up a room,” Estes said. “She is a natural at home-visiting and helping toddlers develop. Stephanie listens with compassion and has the skills needed to help children with disabilities and delays, and their families.
    “She interacts well with the entire EEC team as they guide parents and other caregivers in the child’s intervention,” Estes added. “I cannot imagine a parent not welcoming Stephanie’s suggestions. We are delighted she joined our dedicated staff.”
    The EEC, 1312 Patton, is part of the tiny-k infant/toddler program in Kansas. The non-profit agency’s service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. Although it is funded in part by tax revenue, it relies on private donations; services are free.