Message from the President

It is my great pleasure to present to you the Stern Center’s Fall Newsletter. When one of our students was doing a survey of favorite seasons for a math data collection exercise, there was no hesitation when I answered “Fall!” It is the excitement of a new school year and the promise that brings. Who learns to read this year? Who finds out they have an affinity for soccer? And then, the magic of fall foliage. I know it signals the onset of shorter, colder days but how can you not marvel at that spectacular show the trees put on for us every year? Fall bids farewell after my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Despite challenging times in our world, I feel ever thankful for family, friends, and the work I am privileged to do. Those of us lucky enough to watch learners thrive are blessed.

We hope your fall has been great so far. We had our Annual Meeting in October and welcomed new Stern Center Board members and Staff. We are thankful to the many volunteers who donate their time and expertise on behalf of our mission to advance learning for all. This fall, the Friends of the Stern Center held their Annual Card Party and donated $4,000 in proceeds to scholarships. We are proud that 46% of Stern Center students receive some form of scholarship support because of kind gifts like that from the Friends.

We honor Stern Center staff who have been sharing their extraordinary talents with us for so many years, like Sandy Boyer who celebrated her 20th anniversary! This newsletter also showcases Andrew Pearce, a student we first met decades ago, whose accomplishments we celebrate. I remember when he said to me when he was a teenager; “You know, Blanche, I think of my dyslexia as a gift.” Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your story and being an inspiration to us all.

Early learning is always a priority. We welcome Peggy Price to her new role at the Stern Center as Early Education Program Manager – Birth to Eight and Karen Rodgers, Speech-Language Pathologist – providing her new courses for toddlers and preschoolers to enrich social emotional-development.

Enjoy the rest of the season. May you have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.


Blanche Podhajski President and Founder

Blanche Podhajski, Ph.D.

President and Founder


Designing Success with a Dyslexia Advantage

What is a dream? A chance in life to pursue your passion, an opportunity to use your creativity to produce an aesthetic experience, an artistic journey to identify your purpose in life.

On a recent visit with Andrew Pearce, we heard his story and learned about his entrepreneurial endeavor to create wooden bowls. Pearce is living his dream – passion, art, innovation, and the ability to engage his strengths and creative powers.

Andrew Pearce was first diagnosed with dyslexia back in 1992 while in the fourth grade. This diagnosis was confirmed during Andrew’s sixth grade year with subsequent evaluations of his learning profile at the Stern Center. Andrew attended the Greenwood School for grades five through eight and then the Forman School in Connecticut for grade nine. He then transferred to Hanover High School for grades 10 through 12, where he spent part of each day at Hartford Area Career and Technology Center working with his hands and developing skills. He found value in being evaluated at a young age and credited his parents for being such strong advocates for him and his three brothers. He went on to say, “You have to identify it (your learning disability) and understand it first so you can then find people who can support you and help you out in a way that fits your style of learning because it can be really challenging. Once you can do that, then it becomes really fun.”

To read the full story visit the Stern Center Blog.


Welcome New Stern Center Board Members

On October 5, the Stern Center Board of Directors elected three new members.

Tim Corley has served as president of Bowl New England, Inc. for more than 14 years and has been with the family business for 29 years. Corley was also the Director “at large” for the Bowling Proprietors Association Board from 2001 to 2003. In 2006, he was voted Bowling Proprietor of the year and in 2013 received the President’s Medal in recognition of his leadership, initiative, and contributions to the Bowling Proprietors Association of America. He has significant experience in organizing events, a strong marketing background, and excellent team leadership skills.

Ann DeMarle is Director of both the Emergent Media Center and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Emergent Media Program at Champlain College. Previously, DeMarle had a successful career creating computer graphics solutions for AT&T, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Kodak, Lotus, and IBM. In 2006, she became the first Roger H. Perry Chair after designing and directing Champlain College’s most popular degrees: the Trio of Game and Multimedia and Graphic Design. In 2013, she launched a Master of Science in Emergent Media program in Shanghai, China.

Tim Neiley, retired CEO and president of LPA Design (a company specializing in the design and manufacturing of radio wireless controller devices for the photography industry), is returning for a second time as a Stern Center Board member following his first engagement spanning from 2003 to 2012. Throughout his business career, he held sales and marketing management and leadership positions with several international manufacturing companies, including Sears Manufacturing Co., Hon Industries, and Curtis Computer Products.


Early Childhood – The Exciting Span of Merging Skills Birth to Eight

A lot happens for children from birth to age eight. We have all heard the amazing reports about how experiences early in life impact brain development. Babies’ brains make 700 neural connections every second during the first three years of life! By six months of age, babies encode the sounds of the language they hear and watch the mouths of people who talk to them so they can do likewise.

Such exciting research has resulted in increased attention being paid nationally as well as locally to the importance of early childhood development. Investing in high-quality child care is critical. And, elevating the expertise of the workforce, be it in child care settings, Pre-K programs, or primary classrooms is essential. The Stern Center has been proud of its leadership role in this area through our research-proven program BUILDING BLOCKS FOR LITERACY® (BUILDING BLOCKS).

Early learning standards extend from birth to age eight. That is a huge amount of time for a young child. It is key that the transition from preschool to the primary grades be seamless and successful. Right now, this chasm between birth-5 and K-3 requires quite a leap. Elevating the knowledge of the workforce so that early care and education providers, as well as primary educators, share a common language about best practices grounded in brain science will help. Children can then not only enter Kindergarten ready to learn but also graduate high school as literate, socially skilled young citizens.

To read the full story visit the Stern Center Blog.


Stern Center Staff Publications

Recently, the International Dyslexia Association released their Summer 2016 Edition of Perspectives on Language and Literacy publication. The Theme Editor for this edition was the Stern Center’s very own Program Manager for Evaluations, Melissa Farrall. Melissa contributed the Theme Editor’s Introduction as well as an article entitled Assessing Listening Comprehension in Reading Evaluation. This publication also included an article entitled Teaching Listening Comprehension, written by Stern Center President and Founder, Blanche Podhajski. Other contributors include: Louise Spear-Swerling, Suzanne Carreker, John O. Willis, and Elsa Cardenas-Hagen.

As you may have guessed, this edition of Perspectives on Language and Learning focused on Auditory Processing and Comprehension. Authors discussed everything from the importance of listening comprehension as a skill to how to evaluate and teach listening comprehension effectively.

If you’re interested in learning about listening comprehension from some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, click the link below.

Perspectives on Language and Literacy | Summer Edition 2016

These articles were originally published in Perspectives on Language and Literacy, vol. 42, No. 3, 2016 (summer), copyright by the International Dyslexia Association, Inc. ( Used with permission.


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