News & Events
Welcome to our News Room. Below you’ll find the most recent information about what’s going on at the Conductive Learning Center, and opportunities for you to get involved.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 7, 2014 – The Conductive Learning Center of Aquinas College has announced Karen Mueller O’Neill as its next executive director. Mueller O’Neill brings significant nonprofit management experience to the Center and assumes the role immediately, succeeding Terry Stelter, who in June stepped down to pursue other opportunities.
“I am deeply honored to lead such an extraordinary organization, one with a strong track record of success in transforming the lives of children with motor disorders, by helping them achieve optimal physical, cognitive and social independence,” said Mueller O’Neill.
“I feel very fortunate to be joining the Conductive Learning Center at this exciting time in its history. The board of directors and staff have done a wonderful job building and sustaining the organization, and identifying hopes and dreams for its future. I look forward to leading the CLC in those next steps through building new partnerships, developing resources and programs, and increasing awareness of the CLC and conductive education – all which will translate to more children and families served in our community and beyond.”
Mueller O’Neill brings both deep, and varied, nonprofit expertise to the position with a professional background that includes leadership roles in media consulting, higher education and the performing arts. For more than two decades, she led the marketing and public relations efforts for the Grand Rapids Symphony. As the Symphony’s vice president for marketing and public relations she worked collaboratively with artistic leaders, the board of directors, committees and community partners to create and execute the strategic plans of the organization. Highlights of her accomplishments include the orchestra’s 75th Anniversary sold-out tour performance at Carnegie Hall, and the development and launch of top performing concert series such as the Picnic Pops at Cannonsburg Ski Area and the SymphonicBoom Series, including Cirque de Noel annual performances and Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Prior to her work with the Symphony, Mueller O’Neill held the positions of director of enrollment research at Suffolk University in Boston, Mass., and a research director at Research Communications in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Mueller O’Neill is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics. She has pursued graduate coursework in strategic marketing and advertising at Suffolk University and is a graduate of Inforum’s Executive Leadership Program.
Board President John M. Ritch said following a three-month search, members of the Search Committee unanimously recommended Mueller O’Neill for the role of executive director.
“Karen Mueller O’Neill is uniquely qualified for this position,” said Ritch. “She has the mind of a businesswoman combined with the passion, creativity and sensitivity required of today’s nonprofit leader.”
As executive director, Mueller O’Neill will oversee the CLC’s day-to-day operations. She will lead its overall strategy and management, direct organizational planning and program expansion, guide fundraising, marketing and public relations efforts, and develop community-wide relationships.
Ritch noted that the Search Committee was impressed by Mueller O’Neill’s prior accomplishments, knowledge of the Grand Rapids/West Michigan community and commitment to organizational success. “We look forward to taking the Conductive Learning Center to the next level with her leadership,” said Ritch.
About the Conductive Learning Center of Aquinas College
The Conductive Learning Center (CLC), located in Grand Rapids, Mich., serves children birth to age 26 with motor disorders related to complications of prematurity, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or brain injury. Since 1999, the CLC, a subsidiary corporation of Aquinas College, has helped more than 350 children reach their maximum physical, cognitive and social independence through the application of conductive education principles. Through a unique collaboration between Aquinas College and the Andras Peto College in Budapest, Hungary, the CLC acts as a laboratory school for Aquinas College’s School of Education, the only teacher training program in North America to utilize the conductive education methodology.
View the PDF version of this press release here.
The 2014 summer camp has come and gone, but the memories of the time spent together live on. While the CLC is certainly seasoned in summer camps, this one led to some firsts. Larger than average, 36 students participated in the camp this summer, with the adolescent/young adult group attending for five weeks, and all other groups joining for four weeks.The students greatly enjoyed their themes of “Kids at Work,” in the younger groups, and “See You at the World’s Fair,” with the elementary and young adult participants.
This year, we were excited to spice up our camp with special visitors providing fine arts programs for our students. We jammed with music instructor Victor McDermott, brushed up on our theatre skills with drama director Todd Avery, created artwork with local artist Shannon Andrus, and stepped into the world of advertising with Christian Taylor. We thank all of these artists and the Grand Rapids Fire Department who came out for a fun-filled firefighter field day with our lower primary groups.
It wouldn’t be summer camp without a final performance by our students, and this year was no exception. A dramatic scene was set as the lower primary groups put to use their new knowledge about firefighting, culinary arts, journalism, and construction in “Trouble at the Pizza Shop.” The elementary and adolescent groups came together to help the audience take a stroll down memory lane as they presented “I Saw it at the World’s Fair.” Extra special sound effects were an added bonus to this year’s performance thanks to Christian Taylor.
Summer ended with students completing many new physical accomplishments and wonderful memories to last until next year.
In July, the Conductive Learning Center welcomed students from all over the United States and Canada to participate in its 16th Summer Program since the CLC’s inception in 1999. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, students, staff, families and friends gathered on the campus of Aquinas College on the evening of July 16 for the program’s Sweet Sixteen Party.
The festivities featured a sing-along with special musical guests Victor McDermott and John Lee, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime performance from the “CLC Band.” Other activities included a sweet stroll down memory lane to commemorate members of the “CLC Hall of Fame,” Skype greetings from Dr. Erzsbet Balogh – the former medical director of the International Peto Institute, and games for all ages. A big thank you goes out to Cookies by Design and Angel Tomac for helping to provide special cupcakes for the end of our Sweet Sixteen Party.
We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of the CLC’s last 16 years. From our students and parents, to our friends and supporters, we appreciate the role you have played in helping make our program and the party a sweet success.
With the help of our wonderful guide, teacher and mentor, Andrea Benyovszky, the POHI Class of 2015 was able to travel to the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary to study at the Peto Institute for two weeks. At the Peto Institute we spent time in the classroom learning about writing and language skills in children with motor disabilities. Along with learning about graphomotor functioning, we also learned about school and adolescent aged students and their needs in a conductive education classroom. We were fortunate enough to learn from a variety of Hungarian conductors and some guest lecturers at the Peto.
During our time at the Institute, our days consisted of observations in the morning and then classes and discussions in the afternoon. It was so wonderful to be able to go into the classroom and see that it is much like what we are accustomed to experiencing at the Conductive Learning Center. It was such a great experience to see many different types of classrooms, not just filled with children, but also adults. Having no prior experience to working with adults before, it was great to get the first hand experience of what those programs looked like. We also observed in the kindergarten and elementary residential groups.
Not only did we spend time at the Peto Institute, but we were also able to go out and explore the city of Budapest. We tried to fit in as much as we could into the two weeks we were there: from the amazing view from the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica, to late night walks along the Danube River. The architecture, food, and scenic views helped to make our trip to Hungary truly unforgettable!
We want to give a huge thank you to the CLC and the families that made the trip to the Peto possible! Thank you to everyone who donated and supported our fundraisers. Also, a thank you to the many that shared their ideas and volunteered their time to help us in our endeavors. We look forward to applying what we learned in Budapest to the classroom this year. We will always remember the time spent in the classroom in Hungary as well as the time spent touring the beautiful city.
The POHI Class of 2015
Carolyn Tuski, Alana Curtin, Victoria Jones, Kelli Sprenger and Lindsey Stelhey
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014
Watermark Country Club
5500 Cascade Rd., Grand Rapids, MI 49546
This fun-filled evening raises funds and awareness for the Conductive Learning Center. The evening will include a silent and live auction with unique, exclusive items and experiences, along with dinner and cocktails. The event has gained a reputation for being a premiere event in Grand Rapids and your support will help children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and traumatic brain injury obtain a greater level of independence. Please plan to join us for this fun evening to support the children of CLC.
Dress: Business Attire
5:45 p.m. Social Hour & Silent Auction
6:45 p.m. Silent Auction Closes
7 p.m. Dinner, Program, Live Auction, Scholarship Drive
9 p.m. Evening Concludes
Purchase your tickets for Evening of Celebration online.
Ticket price is $125.00 each.
Contact us at (616) 575-0575 if you are interested in a table sponsorships beginning at $2,000.00 for 8 guests. Learn more about sponsorship by viewing our 2014 Sponsor Packet.
Purchase an Individual Ticket
Purchase a Table Sponsorship
Thank you to the generous sponsors of An Evening of Celebration 2013!
LEAD PRESENTING SPONSOR
Dellvan and Joyce Hoezee
Keith and Shelly Harrold
Richard H Brown Foundation
Steve and Mary Anderson
Art & Betsy Hasse
Kentwood Offi ce Furniture
Best & Company
Bill and Karen Lawrence
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of
Bob and Judy VanDongen
Daniel and Pamella DeVos
David and Linda Mehney
Ferris State University
Friend of CLC
Herman Miller Cares
Korte & Kowatch
Lacks Enterprises, Inc.
Laminin Medical Products
Mary and James Krzeminski
Matt and Katie DeCamp
Merrill Lynch – Grand Rapids
Mike and Sue Jandernoa
Paul and Cathy Boyer
Richard and Sandra White
Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge
Bob and Kathy Price
David and Cara Cassard
Dirk and Lisa Buth
Gary and Linda McInerney
George and Nancy Wanty
Larry and Mettie Leigh
Merrill Lynch / Bank of America –
Bloomfi eld Hills
Mike and Holly Vredevoogd
MLive Media Group/
The Grand Rapids Press
The Louis and Helen Padnos
Wolverine Building Group
American Seating Company
Berends Hendricks Stuit Insurance
Oakland Orthopaedic Surgeons,
RoMan Manufacturing. Inc
Thomas and Kimberly Condon
WINE & BEER SPONSOR
Henry A. Fox Sales
This year Team CLC had over 130 runners and walkers representing Conductive Learning Center, an official Charity Partner, in the Fifth Third River Bank Run. The race is a great opportunity for the community to get inspired by the amazing accomplishments of CLC students like 17 year old, Nathaniel, who walked the 5K, or 8 year old Dakota, who ran in the Junior Fun Run! Runners and walkers raised over $30,000 for the “Champion a Child” scholarship fund that will help families with qualifying children attend the dynamic programs at Conductive Learning Center to gain independence.
CLC strives to make the Team CLC experience fun and rewarding. Participants attended special pre-race trainings, a pre-race pasta dinner, and had access to an indoor race prep area on race day. Thank you to everyone that made this event a great success! If you are interested in signing up for next year’s event, email email@example.com.
A huge thank you to our 2014 Team CLC sponsors. These organizations, individuals and teams are changing lives by supporting the scholarship fund at CLC!
To support the efforts of Team CLC, click on the “DONATE TO TEAM CLC” link above. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please call (616) 575-0575 with questions or for more information.
This school year we are excited to welcome Aquinas College students into our classrooms at the Conductive Learning Center. CLC continues to serve as the lab school setting for students studying to be conductor-teachers through the collaboration of Aquinas College and the International Peto Institute.
Three students have started their first year of study in the program, after completing several observation hours before making the decision to apply for the program. Coinciding with their theoretical courses, they will be working in CLC classrooms ten hours per week, where they will be given hands on opportunities to learn about the various aspects of Conductive Education alongside the conductor-teachers. When they have completed the Aquinas program, these students will have a variety of experiences working with all ages of children with motor disabilities, and in every program offered at CLC, as well as a student teaching experience in a traditional classroom in a local school district.
We also welcome back the five Aquinas students who will be beginning their third year of study in the program. The third year students began the school year with an intensive course delivered by visiting professor, Dr. Balogh from the Peto Institute. These students will visit the International Peto Institute in the spring to tour, observe and experience the programs offered in Budapest, where Conductive Education was founded. The students have been busy planning and working on various fundraisers to help support their travel to Budapest to complete their studies for the year. The perspective gained while in Budapest enriches their outlook and experiences as they move into their final year of training.
Bryce, 4 years old, spent his first session at Conductive Learning Center (CLC) in this year’s Summer Camp program. Bryce was born 4 months premature, at home, where his parents gave him CPR until emergency responders arrived. Starting life a mere 1 1/2 pounds and 12 inches long, Bryce spent his first 5 months fighting for his life in the Neonatal ICU.
His mother, Katrina, wrote the following in her blog at the end of his summer camp experience at CLC.
“I know I should be overwhelmingly happy to be going home, to be getting back to normal and to be sleeping in my own bed again.
And I am – but the truth is, it’s bittersweet.
I do miss home but I’ve seen the other side, the vast potential that is Bryce, and it’s utterly addicting.
Bryce has been in therapy a minimum of three times per week for the last three and a half years, since he was six months old and just one month out of the NICU.
I believed fully that we were doing everything we could for him, that we were giving him every possible opportunity and that the progress we were seeing was his full potential for change.
I have to admit that while I was hopeful, I was also weary. I came here with an open heart and a doubtful mind. Years of enduring therapy visits and specialist appointments had conditioned me for bad news and little progress.
Sure, I would have loved for Bryce to have come home walking independently but that simply wasn’t realistic. However, I witnessed full blown, absolutely independent steps. FOUR of them! I have seen him make full-scale, across-the-board progress that makes his prior progress seem just silly.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical when I first heard about the CLC program. I was raised to question everything.
But this place (CLC) is the real deal. I’ve personally witnessed subtle, consistent changes in Bryce including:
- Increased walking endurance
- A longer attention span
- Putting hands in front of his face to brace against falling (this is epic and will save us more ER visits for split chins!)
- More consistent use of right hand and use of BOTH hands together (unless this is a problem you battle, you can’t begin to understand how much it changes everything about your day and daily routine)
- Longer periods of stable, independent standing
- More often standing up from the ground completely independently
- Vastly increased vocalizations
- Much, much more intentional “communication” coupled with an eagerness to communicate we’ve never before been privy to
- More social independence
- And more!
Seeing Bryce have the opportunity to exceed his own, and our, perceived limitations, interact with peers and be in a group of children with similar challenges has been life altering. The way he lights up when we run into another child from the CLC almost makes up for the 10 extra minutes that means it will take to reach our destination by letting Bryce get there on his own.
The conductors here have this perfect balance of stern direction and loving affection that results in optimum performance. If it were an option, I would take them home.
Unfortunately, that isn’t an option and so now I begrudgingly prepare for our return home while trying earnestly to figure out how to continue this forward motion and get back to CLC as soon as possible.
The simple fact is that every step of progress, every milestone before CLC came so slowly that it was hard to even celebrate. Bryce didn’t roll over until after his first birthday, he sat up independently just before his 2nd birthday and only began walking with a walker at 2 1/2 years of age.
His progress in five weeks of camp has been incredible and, as I’ve said to people here many times over the last week or so, I’m ready to go home but not ready to stop. And so, to home we go, with a heavy heart and hopeful eye. Thanks CLC!”
Diversity – The Conductive Learning Center is committed to equality. This statement speaks to this commitment, as does our history. All members of our organization – board, staff, students – will demonstrate respect for each other regardless of our differences. All of us will be sensitive in our actions, words, and deeds. We will demonstrate these sensitivities in our classrooms, offices, and meeting places. We will maintain the diversity of our Board of Trustees, clients, and staff and appreciate the differences each brings to this organization regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability.
Summer Camp 2013 was a year to remember. A total of 30 students participated in the four age groups during this year’s program, which ran from July 8th – August 9th.
Each group had a featured topic which served as a theme and motivation throughout the five weeks, culminating in the final performance. The early childhood group pretended they were “Camping” and explored camping activities, foods they could eat, and plants and animals they might see in the great outdoors. The lower primary group became living exhibits as they experienced, “A Night at the Museum.” Drew, the night watchman had his hands full subduing the dinosaur, monkey and mummy when they came to life and raised a ruckus. The elementary and adolescent groups combined forces as they took a trip down memory lane to make connections between “Pop Culture” of yesterday and today. It was fun to reminisce about the music, fashion and culture of days of yore.
During Summer Camp, each child worked to improve their skills in all areas of development, and the groups showcased their new knowledge, social skills, and physical developments as they performed the capstone skit on the Aquinas College Performing Arts Stage. Highlights from the performance included “Down by the Bay” – a campfire song, the Museum of Natural History coming to life, and a live taping of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
Many thanks to the Children, Parents, and Staff for their support in making this summer a success! See more pictures from Summer Camp 2013 here.
Applications for the 2014 summer camp will close on February 1, 2014 and can be found on the website at www.conductivelearningcenter.org.