Fifty years ago, my mother, Rose Jane Townsend and I sat at her kitchen table and sketched out a plan for opening a learning center. Our dream was to use our collective years of experience teaching remedial reading to help children and adults who had trouble reading or learning. A humble $5000 brought us enough furniture, books, and teaching materials to get started in a rental office above the stores in Chagrin Falls. Back in 1970 we were the only learning center on the east side of Cleveland. A few ads in the local paper, and some speaking engagements at area PTAs and faculty meetings brought in enough business to cover our rent.
Our mission was always to determine what each person needed, and to ferret out what was in the way of their learning. We put together a tool chest of diagnostic tests and protocols, and we learned how to listen closely, to be sensitive to what worked and didn’t work to help each individual learn optimally.
Before long, we moved to larger offices, and hired several teachers. We even needed a front desk receptionist! We were known in the greater community for helping people of all ages learn the way that worked best for them. Our secret was intensive one-on-one diagnostic teaching with a pinch of fun thrown in!
Tragically, Rose Jane died of a cerebral aneurysm only five years after we founded Townsend Learning Center. To this day I consult with her “virtually"; how would you handle this, Mom?
I never considered closing Townsend, or moving on to another career. Instead, my creative team and I expanded our unique approach to learning to high schoolers applying to colleges, adults struggling to succeed in the workplace, and veterans who had been injured while enlisted. By 1999, we had learning centers in Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, and Cleveland. I sold the learning center in Chagrin Falls to Tony Whitehouse who carried on the individualized tutoring program.
In 2005 we increased our adult services to include injured workers who wanted to stay employed but who could no longer fulfill their job duties. With the immeasurable creativity of our team, led by Linda Malik, we created the flagship Work Adjustment program in Northeast Ohio, determining each individual’s readiness and physical ability to return to work, and helping them gain the skills necessary for working in an office environment. We have graduated over 500 workers who are happily and suitably employed.
Whew! After fifty years, we were required to innovate once again. Covid-19 mandated that we train some of our clients remotely. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as our students learned necessary skills of using technology to work from home. The remote learning program is highly successful, and will be an ongoing part of our curriculum, no matter what the future holds.
We invite you to celebrate our first fifty years! We would love to see you...our offices are Covid-clean and everyone is wearing a mask! Give us a call, and let us know you are coming!
We believe that everyone can gain the skills and confidence through continued learning to reach their goals. Our programming has been specifically designed for students in all stages of life, from veterans and workers returning to the workplace after injury to adults, young adults, and children in need of academic tutoring and SAT test preparation.
Townsend Learning Center is still here!
We are happy to work with your clients in our center where our staff is fully vaccinated and eager to work with your referrals. We continue to comply with social distancing guidelines by serving a reduced number of clients and sanitation guidelines with updated cleaning procedures.
In order to accommodate our reduced in-center capacity, we are offering your clients remote Short Term Training through our online training center. BWC has made allowances for managers to change WA authorizations over to Short Term Training to enable our clients to work remotely with our excellent online instructors.
Thank you for your faith and loyalty to Townsend. We look forward to working with you again in the near future! Take good care of yourself, and enjoy your families and all the things that truly matter.
Townsend Learning Center
SARAH LITTLEFIELD M.Ed.
Sarah Littlefield, M.Ed. is the co-founder and executive director of Townsend Learning Center. Her educational and experiential background was integral to her vision for a learning center for children and adults where each person’s unique gifts are recognized, where their barriers to learning are seen as opportunities to grow, to overcome, and to thrive in lifelong learning settings.
VAN BRAY, M.Ed.
Van has over twenty years of experience designing, teaching, and managing effective curriculum and learning environments for adults. His work includes university, adult basic, adult vocational, computer technology, and assistive technology. Van holds an Ohio teaching license, undergraduate degrees in education and engineering, and an M.Ed. in Adult Learning and Development.
Brian Handke has been working with Townsend for three years, but has recently joined us in our center. As head of the SAT/ACT program, Brian uses his Ohio teaching certification to design a program that works. He attended the Ohio State University and also holds degrees in Operations Management and Purchasing.
Christina Higgins decided to be a teacher when she was in the 4th grade. Today, one of her favorite possessions in life is her library card. She earned a BS in Secondary Education and studied Criminal Justice. Her experience includes adult new readers, elementary school students, English Language Learners, the incarcerated, college prep and career training students. Career highlights include designing kits for corporate and volunteer groups to use in after school reading programs, creating an anthology of short stories for at risk students, and becoming a certified PhonoGraphix Reading Trainer.
Townsend Learning Center
1667 East 40th Street, Suite 1B
Cleveland, OH 44103
Departments:Work Adjustment, Training and Situational Assessment:
216.472.8300 ext 105
SAT/ACT Test Prep
216-472-8300 ext 139