May 27, 2018

A Stern switch

Stern Center moves to former Seven Gables locale effective Jan. 2

Dec. 22, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff


The Stern Center for Language and Learning will be closed Dec. 26-30 while it moves into its new location at 183 Talcott Road (above). It will reopen Jan. 2. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Rendall)

For an organization that opens the minds of people with learning disabilities, the Stern Center was decidedly closed-minded when it came to choosing a new location for its headquarters.

“In the two years where we were looking for new space, we did not look outside of Williston,” said John Connell, chief operating officer of the Stern Center for Language and Learning.

As a result, The Stern Center, a nonprofit learning and literacy center founded in 1983, isn’t moving far. Its change in location measures roughly 800 feet as the crow flies, from 135 Allen Brook Lane to 183 Talcott Road — the site of the former Seven Gables building.

Stern Center President Blanche Podhajski said she previously moved her growing organization from Winooski to Williston in 1994 because of its proximity to Interstate 89, but remarked that the area has increased in desirability since then.

“We chose Williston very deliberately, because this was central and yet still for the people from the south offered easy access,” Podhajski said. “As everything (in Williston) has mushroomed, it also gives our families nice places to go while they wait. Children are here sometimes for an entire day, and people come from New York and come from quite a distance, so they can take their other children and go off and do other things in the community.”

As Williston has grown, so too has the Stern Center. In 1998, it began leasing the building across the parking lot, which eventually became the home of the Cynthia K. Hoehl Institute for Excellence (a demonstration site for professional learning).

The namesake of Hoehl, a Stern Center board member, is again being invoked as part of the current move. What was once called the Seven Gables building will now be known as the Cynthia K. Hoehl Building — a gesture of appreciation toward the Hoehl Family Foundation, whose $1 million donation made the relocation possible.

“It’s extraordinary to have people who are so philanthropic,” Podhajski said of the Hoehl family. “It’s amazing.”

Podhajski noted that consolidating the Stern Center’s operations in one building will result in substantial cost savings.

“Between the revenue we’ll be generating from some tenants (Associates at the Gables psychotherapists) who will still be in the building and the savings on this leased space, it saves $100,000 a year,” Podhajski said, “and having us all under one roof is lovely, especially for the people that trek over in the midst of inclement weather.”

The new facility will also have enhanced video conferencing capabilities, allowing for closer collaboration with the Stern Center’s secondary White River Junction location and clients around the region.

“The video conferencing capability is terrific,” said Podhajski. “It’s important as a cost savings measure, because we have to travel otherwise quite a distance to do some of our in-service programs.”

The Stern Center will be closed Dec. 26-30 while it relocates. It will reopen Jan. 2.

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