The Story of Eli
Eli, a former Stern Center student, reflects on before and after receiving customized reading instruction. Eli graduated from Vermont Woodworking School with a degree in Furniture Design & Fine Craftsmanship in 2014. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington where he is a glassblower at glassybaby.
It’s been over a decade since I attended the Stern Center; however my memories of my time are positive ones and can be boiled down to the color of the carpet, the expressive hands of my tutor, and the taste of goldfish crackers. What I can remember, with great clarity, are the times before and after I attended. I can still remember sitting in my classroom in the third grade surrounded by other students busily reading “Treasure Island” or some other such young adult novel while I chewed my fingernails. I remember hiding outside after recess had ended because I was too anxious to attend English class. Back then, the world of words was my greatest failure, and my greatest fear.
I couldn’t tell you when I stopped my tutelage at the Stern Center; the shift from literary anxiety to affection was diffuse, taking place over many years. Even after I learned to read, thanks to the Stern Center, the idea that I was not the kind of person that liked books stuck with me for a long time. But eventually it lifted. I remember sitting in my backyard during a fall break in high school and reading William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” over the course of a day or two; I was obsessed. I got lost in the leaky spaceships of Zion and the rainy streets of Chiba City. I fell in love with Molly Millions and I was terrified of Wintermute. A whole universe of complex people and places to explore - and to think I would have access to none of it were it not for the tutelage, the memory of which has faded, but for which my sense of gratitude remains.