Helen Rist

Executive Director

The needs of students with learning differences have been at the core of Helen’s career in education. Motivated by the desire to help all children learn to their full potential, she chose to study special education. Helen received her B.S. in education from Fitchburg State University and her M.Ed. in Reading from Boston University. She enjoyed her beginning role as a special education teacher and later, a grade 5, then grade 3 classroom teacher. Moving to administration was a logical next step and she served as an Assistant Principal before becoming a Principal for eleven years at two local districts. After receiving her Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from the University of New Hampshire, she become the Director of Student Services for a large SAU in the seacoast. Coming to Strafford Learning Center has given Helen the opportunity to use her varied experiences to carry on the well-established legacy of Strafford Learning Center’s impactful work with school districts for students with special needs. The programs and services offered by Strafford Learning Center benefit over 1000 students in 30 schools.

Mike Powers

Assistant Director

Since joining Strafford Learning Center in the fall of 2014, Mike has assumed a number of leadership and management roles under the direction of the Executive Director. A former local public school special education teacher, administrator, association president and board chairman, Mike relishes his role as a transformational leader for the important work performed by the accomplished professional staff at SLC. Mike holds innovation, research and collaboration in high regard as a means for improving student learning outcomes regardless of disadvantage or disability. He holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University.

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Cathy Cray

Administrative Assistant

Cathy serves at the primary contact for all external offices.  Having held positions in the legal and special education fields, she is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various staff, programs and school districts.

Cathy has been with Strafford Learning Center for 25+ years as the Administrative Assistant.  She enjoys her multifaceted role working directly with the Executive Director, Assistant Executive Director, Program Directors and many therapists and school staff.

Prior to working at Strafford Learning Center, Cathy worked for ten years at a local law firm, earning her Paralegal degree from McIntosh College.

In addition to her duties as the Administrative Assistant at Strafford Learning Center, Cathy is active in the Big Brothers and Big Sister’s program in the Seacoast.

Penny Lee

Technology Integrator

Penny earned her Journalism BA from the University of Maryland, College Park. She began her career in Public Relations and Advertising Writing. Penny moved to Boston and got an MAT in Elementary Education at Simmons College. She then worked in Special Education in Salem, MA while earning and EdS in Assistive Technology, also from Simmons College. Penny moved to New Hampshire with her family four-years ago, and was thrilled to begin working at Strafford Learning Center where she can use her technology and education skills, while learning new things at the same time.

Carole Annach

Business Manager

Carole has been the business manager at Strafford Learning Center since 1999. She also works in technology. She is a veteren of the US Army and is a recent kidney donor. Carole is an animal lover and likes to cook.