Top Floor Learning

In Their Own Words...

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Marianne Halpern:
Halpern Titanium

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"I was interested in the program before it became Top Floor Learning, back when it was known as Literacy Volunteers of Quaboag Valley. I had been a Learning Disability teacher for 25 years, so helping the reading disabled is definitely a passion of mine. I was certified as a Wilson Reading instructor while at Tantasqua and I was very pleased that Special Education teachers were given this opportunity to reach dozens of students with reading disabilities. My husband had been working at the Monson Developmental Center for over twenty years but we both knew it was going to close eventually, so in 1997, we knew it was time to try on life #2.

On Martin Luther King Day in 1997, we bought our first batch of titanium and screws for $2,000 and began our business out of our home. We worked with knife designers, then with factories, and then we bought our first CNC milling machine in 2000. In 2001, Pam Johnson and I gave a 1-hour presentation at the old library to let people know about the prevalence of reading disability. I met Marsha Gaudette then and thought seriously about volunteering because my desire to teach reading was still very strong. However, I found that I could not run the business and make the commitment to volunteer - there just wasn't the time. But if you can't commit to teaching every week, you can still throw out your message - if money helps, I can do that. The impetus to donate to Top Floor Learning came from reading about the Rotary Club's donation toward the 3-day Wilson Reading training at Top Floor Learning in October 2008. I had done a quick presentation to Rotary about reading disability and this brought everything together for me.

We try to give locally, even though we sell world-wide, to put money in the hands of people who will invest locally. I am a hospice volunteer and we give to the hospital. We give Leatherman tools to the Palmer Police and T-shirts to the Monson Dolphins. Les and I feel a real responsibility to our seven employees and their families, especially during these difficult times. I may not be teaching kids to read at the moment, but our company is keeping these families going. I've been watching Top Floor Learning grow. I'm very impressed by something like this going on in Palmer. Every time I see the course catalogue I see something new - it's getting better all the time. You are still keeping the original mission of teaching adult literacy but you keep broadening it. I'm amazed at how well you get the message out. I think Top Floor Learning creates great value for the community."

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