Wendy Lopez Early Childhood Educator and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Penfield Children’s Center In this week’s feature, we celebrate and honor the late Wendy Lopez. She was a beloved early childhood educator at Penfield Children’s Center. On the morning of Tuesday, December 15, Wendy passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47. She gave nearly half her life to educating and improving the lives of young children and their families at Penfield Children’s Center. Wendy began her career at Penfield in 1997, at the age of 24. She worked in Penfield’s Special Care Nursery, a classroom which houses very young, medically fragile infants alongside their typically developing peers. She began as a Certified Nurse Assistant and went on to advance her skills by becoming an Early Childhood Educator. Wendy understood that all infants and children thrive when provided with holistic care that includes medical care, therapies, social services and education. The nursing service was crucial to the survival of the kids she served, and the educational lessons provided opportunities for children to grow and succeed at their own pace. Wendy worked with some of the center’s most fragile children at the most critical developmental stages in their lives. In her dual role as a CNA and Early Childhood Educator, Wendy provided a unique perspective to the center’s Child Care Program. “To say Wendy was passionate about the kids she cared for is an understatement. She was loving, kind, funny and dedicated to the children.” She also developed very close bonds with the parents and families of the children she taught. Wendy would often go beyond the classroom to provide coaching, guidance and support to her families who were going through educational and health challenges. Wendy had two children of her own and she related well to the struggles many parents face. Staff, parents and the children at Penfield Children’s Center have been left with a deep void by Wendy’s passing. The legacy she left behind makes Penfield a better early care and education program. May she live on in the memories of her family, friends, and colleagues.