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About Us

Since 1987, CLC has served more than 6,000 adult and teen learners. CLC fosters personal growth, economic self-sufficiency, and the pursuit of lifelong learning. We help our learners to improve their reading, writing, math, and computer skills and to expand their sphere of general knowledge. We also help our learners transition to employment, college, and job training programs, and to overcome difficult societal and personal issues that can otherwise impede the attainment of goals.

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    Family Reading Book

    CLC Core Values

    Access to Education

    CLC values access to education for all students and their families. We promote individual growth and community change through lifelong learning.

    Mutual Responsibility

    CLC fosters a shared commitment to learning with an expectation of excellence for both teachers and students.


    CLC respects the life experience that learners bring into the classroom. We provide a nurturing place for learning and sharing, with curricula that are sensitive to our students' needs.

    Holistic Approach to Teaching and Learning

    CLC meets learners' needs by using student-centered teaching techniques, with an emphasis on individual attention. Our holistic approach honors teachers as learners and learners as teachers.

    Jose Marrero 2009 Graduates
    Elise at Falstaff

    CLC Programs

    Education Program 

    Community Learning Center provides no-cost instruction in Adult Basic Education and  GED Preparation. Classes are held at community locations in North Philadelphia. In addition, CLC participates in the Move Up initiative and the College and Career Advancement Program (CCAP). CLC also partners with Suburban Station Pennsylvania CareerLink and is a Pennsylvania Workforce Improvement Network (PA WIN) affiliate.

    Student Support Services Department

    With the guidance of CLC's transition and life skills counselor, students explore career interests and set self-directed goals. Our counselor helps students acquire life and employability skills and advance to job training, college, or other post-secondary education. Our counselor endeavors to communicate with former students to gauge CLC's impact and to assist those still in transition. We counsel students about issues that may be obstacles to attendance at CLC and the attainment of financial self-sufficiency and other goals. We inform students of, and link them with, additional community resources that can provide further support.

    Literacy Initiative

    Striving to end the debilitating cycle of low literacy that is passed from parent to child, CLC advances family literacy by building home libraries for the youngsters in our students' homes. Through book drives and grants from foundations such as First Book, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own new books, we acquire and distribute children's literature. We teach caregivers the importance of reading to children, and we explain, through book talks and storytelling, how to select and read literature to youngsters. By reading to children, our adult learners improve their own skills, too.

    Linda and Barbara Dale LaShainnia

    Who We Are

    CLC Students

    CLC is based in North Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, which bears the 19134 zip code. 

    In 2005, the birth rate among girls ages 15-17 in the 19134 area was 76 per 1000. This rate was the highest of the city's 42 zip codes and was substantially higher than the overall citywide rate of 43 per 1000.

    Of all Kensington families, 28.3% are headed by single women. Of those families, 50% live below the poverty level, compared with 32.2% of families headed by single women citywide.

    Of the 10 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate. In Kensington, 38% of individuals and 33% of families live below the poverty level, compared with 22.9% of individuals and 18.4% of families citywide. In 2007, the estimated unemployment rate in Kensington was 18.4%, compared with 12.7% citywide.

    From 2002 to 2006, the number of gunshot victims ages 7-24 in Kensington rose by 84%. In 2006, there were 254 juvenile drug arrests in 19134—more than in any other Philadelphia zip code.

    Only 53.4% of Kensington adults age 25 and older have a high school diploma, compared with 71.2% citywide; 13.8% of Kensington adults age 25 and older have less than a ninth grade education, compared with 7.5% citywide.

    In 2005-2006, the public high school dropout rate in the region formed by the Kensington, Bridesburg, and Richmond neighborhoods was the highest of the city's 11 regions; 35.9% of first-time ninth graders dropped out of public school before graduation. Only 47.5% of first-time ninth graders graduated from public high school in four years, and the public school average daily attendance was 85.3%—the lowest such rates of any region.

    Twenty-two percent of Philadelphia's adults lack everyday literacy skills.

    (Above statistics are from Community Report Cards 2007, Mayor's Commission on Children; U.S. Census 2000; Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30/07; National Center for Education Statistics Literacy Survey, 2003; Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/9/2009)

    GED Graduates

    CLC students who obtain their GED are honored at our annual Awards and Graduation Ceremony. Our graduates have gone on to post-secondary education, job training programs, and career-path employment.

    CLC Professionals

    Our team's talent, dedication, creativity, and commitment to our mission make our program a success.

    Stephanie Chuang Fahringer

    Stephanie Fahringer, development assistant and teacher, earned a B.A. and a teaching certificate at Swarthmore College. She has prior experience as a writing teacher at Laboratory Charter School, Philadelphia; a long-term substitute teacher at Abington Friends School; a tutor in Mandarin Chinese; and an English teacher at Tianjin University of Science and Technology, China.
    Abigail Orenstein

    Abby Orenstein, a Move Up teacher, earned a B.A. in theatre arts from Brandeis University and an M.A. in English education from Columbia University. She has prior experience teaching language arts, yoga, dance, music, and folk shul.
    Patricia Haggerty

    Patty Haggerty teaches Intermediate Adult Basic Education/Pre-GED and GED/Transition. She earned two bachelor's degrees from Rutgers University, one in art and the other in biology. Patty has experience in adult, elementary, and preschool education. In addition, she has management experience. Before joining our staff, Patty served as a volunteer at CLC.
    Steven C. Schaller

    Steven Schaller graduated from Georgia Southern University with a B.S. in speech communication and from the University of South Florida with a Master's in reading education. He taught at-risk youth at the Broach School and children with learning differences at Center Academy in Florida. In addition, Steven served as an AmeriCorp volunteer in Escondido, California. Steven is our ABE/GED teacher at Suburban Station CareerLink, and he teaches our CCAP class.
    Carol S. Miller

    Carol Miller serves as associate director and an Adult Basic Education and Move Up teacher. She received a B.S. in Education magna cum laude from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and she earned an M.B.A. from Villanova University, where she was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Societies.
    A former middle school language arts teacher, Carol had a 25-year career in management at a large corporate law firm. She has also had broad, in-depth experience as a volunteer for nonprofit organizations, domestic and international.
    Christy A. Stephens

    Christy Stephens, our transition and life skills counselor, graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in psychology. She taught social studies at Delaware Valley High School, physical education and technology at Central Ohio Christian School, and ninth grade at the Crittenton Community School in Columbus, Ohio. Christy has served as a volunteer at the Saturday Academy in Philadelphia and for HOPE worldwide.
    Sarah O'Doherty

    Sarah O'Doherty teaches our intensive Intermediate ABE/Pre-GED class. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in history and a teaching certificate. Thereafter, she attended Arcadia University, where she earned a C.A.S., certifying her to be a school principal, and an M.Ed., with certification as a reading specialist. Sarah was a classroom teacher at St. Francis of Assisi School and the Project Learn School in Philadelphia. She was a reading specialist at the Temple Laboratory School and in the Cheltenham School District, and she served as principal at the Shrewsbury Mountain School in Vermont. Sarah also has experience as a literacy consultant.

    Rebecca Serfass Wagner

    Becky Wagner, executive director, holds a B.A. in medical technology from Shippensburg State University, an M.S. in medical technology from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and a D.Ed. from Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg. She was previously coordinator of the Southeast Professional Development Center, Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13; an ABE/GED and ESL teacher in the Adult Education Program, Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13; an adjunct faculty member at Millersville University and Pennsylvania State University Great Valley; the owner of a computer software and application training company; a substitute science teacher in the Manheim Township, Manheim Central, and Ephrata School Districts; a clinical chemist at St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Care Center; a clinical chemistry instructor at Harrisburg Hospital School of Medical Technology; and a corporate trainer.


    Executive Director

    Rebecca Serfass Wagner

    Board of Directors

    Mary Flournoy, President
    Retired Librarian, The Free Library of Philadelphia

    Daniel V. Johns, Vice President
    Partner, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP

    Fred Baumert, Treasurer
    Civil Engineer, Keast & Hood Company

    Jeffrey K. Daman, Secretary
    Attorney, McCarter & English, LLP

    Branville G. Bard, Jr.
    Captain, 22nd District, Philadelphia Police Department

    Vera Da Vinci
    Program Manager, Division of College, Career, and Technical Education, School District of Philadelphia

    Joseph Hilton
    West Area Administrator, The Free Library of Philadelphia

    Irvin H. Hurwitz
    Director of Institutional Advancement,
    National Museum of American Jewish History

    Ronald Kim
    Vice President, Information Technology-IT PECO Solutions & Customer Platform, Exelon Corporation

    Dale Mezzacappa
    Contributing Editor, Philadelphia Public School Notebook

    Maria E. Mills-Torres
    World Languages Content Specialist,
    Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Development,
    School District of Philadelphia

    Karen Michael
    Vice President, Clinical Services,
    Keystone Mercy Health Plan AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies

    Celinette Olmo
    CLC Graduate; Student, Esperanza College of Eastern Unversity;

    Kerry Rowe
    System Audit Project Leader, Internal Audit,
    Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

    Anita Scott
    Vice President, Director of Human Resources,
    Radian Group Inc.
    Advisory Board

    Charlotte Blake Alston

    Mary Anderson
    CLC Graduate;
    Student, West Chester University

    Janice M. Borlandoe
    Associate Vice President for Student Affairs,
    University of the District of Columbia

    John Cugini
    Business Consultant, IBM Corporation

    April J. Dungy

    Barbara Guido
    Human Resources Consultant

    Patricia Lewis
    Special Events Manager, JEVS Human Services

    Lisa Lusby
    Director, Passport Advantage, Keystone Mercy Health Plan

    Helen Mullen
    Retired Coordinator, Office of Work with Children,
    The Free Library of Philadelphia

    Kristen Rantanen
    Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs,
    JEVS Human Services

    Natalia Quinteros-Guevara
    Student, Community College of Philadelphia

    Tracey Ray
    Public Coordinator, The Free Library of Philadelphia

    Harold Russell, D.V.M.

    Andrea S. Taylor
    Director of Training, Center for Intergenerational Learning,
    Temple University

    Ellen Wise

    Peter W. Yenawine
    Founder and Chief Designer, Crystal Signatures 


    We are profoundly grateful to our many government, foundation, corporate, and individual donors, whose financial support enables CLC to offer its classes and other services free of charge.

    Annual Report

    Read our Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2007-2008.

    CLC Logo How to Donate

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