Dr. Megan Hudson
As a Chiropractor and educator, Dr. Megan Hudson is passionate about working with children through natural integrative approaches at the Brain Balance Achievement Center of West Springfield. Dr. Hudson has extensive post-doctoral training in Childhood Developmental Disorders and Functional Neurology, studying with Dr. Robert Melillo since 2004.She focused on elementary education while at Goddard College and was certified to teach K-6 in Vermont. In addition to her clinical experience in private practice for over a decade, she has worked with students in reading, special education, outdoor education and athletic coaching.
She is the expert for the northwestern New England region on a Functional Neurological approach to learning and remediating childhood developmental disorders/challenges and has been sought out by educational institutions across New England to consult with and present to schools, professionals and parents on these issues. In our center, she is fondly referred to as “The Kid Whisperer” as her inner child is never far away and readily connects with every kid who walks through our doors, no matter age, background, interest in an authentic manner that tells them “they are seen and understood.”
Talitha Abramsen M.Ed.
Talitha comes from a family of public school teachers who has worked with children who have exceptional learning needs and gifts. As a result, she has always been passionate about creating supportive educational environments where young people feel invited to unleash their truest potential and share their unique gifts with the wider world.
Talitha holds a Bachelor’s from Smith College where she minored in education, and obtained her M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her career has spanned many different roles in the educational and social services fields, primarily focusing on youth who are “placed at risk” or “pushed out” of traditional educational systems for living “square peg” lives in a “round hole” society.
Talitha brings her varied experience in educational systems to her work at Brain Balance Center of West Springfield to support our families through every stage of our program. She is honored to be a part of the local Brain Balance team, and the national network of centers, and feels privileged to contribute to an educational model that is both mission-driven and trailblazing the way for our larger society to start reclaiming a generation of young people. Talitha is grateful to come to work each day knowing that the time and effort contributed by this team of caring professionals results in significant and positive transformation in the lives of our students and their families. “The honeymoon is never over in our line of work,” she likes to say.
Rebecca joined the Brain Balance West Springfield team after witnessing her younger sister graduate from our program with outstanding results. Coming from a family of educators, Rebecca became an intern, initially wanting to learn how the Brain Balance Program helped shape the futures prospects of the children it enrolled. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Spring of 2014 as a double major in Psychology and Communication studies.
With an innate passion for helping others succeed, a strong appetite for knowledge, and comprehensive experience with customer service, Rebecca is an important asset to our team. As Program Director, she administers and scores sensory motor assessments, designs an individualized program for each incoming student, and oversees their progress in each room, as well as connecting with parents about the success of the home program. She supervises staff in both program rooms and also loves to coach in both the Sensory-Motor and Academic rooms as needed. Referred to as “Techie Becky” by center staff, Rebecca is also well versed and interested in all things involving technology and marketing.
Marlene DeJesus, MSW LICSW
Marlene DeJesus recently joined our team in May of 2015. She comes to our center enthusiastic about working with our families in making positive changes in their children’s lives. Marlene has over fifteen years of experience working in the mental health field with more recent focus on trauma. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Elms College and a Master’s degree in social work from Fordham University and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
Marlene has worked with families and young people who had a variety of diagnoses in settings such as public and alternative schools, treatment centers and community organizations. She also co-owned a dance studio where she taught children many disciplines of dance. After years in the field and hearing about a family friend’s daughter who experienced success from our Brain Balance Center, she was eager to learn more. She discovered our center and instantly knew she wanted to be part of a team who is doing cutting edge work, that thinks beyond a diagnosis. She is excited to work with our families in her capacity as Admissions and Family Relations Coordinator.
Assessor and Program Coach
Russ Mayo comes to Brain Balance after 7 years with the Department of Youth Services. He managed and co-designed DYS’ innovative top security program and has a myriad of national juvenile justice trainings. Prior to his work with DYS he spent more than 10 years coaching basketball of all ages including college basketball with the now retired Howie Dickenman at CCSU where he also majored in Political Science.
Russ’ passion for working with youth combined with his avid interest in wellness and innovative approaches lead him to the Brain Balance Team here in West Springfield. In his time outside of Brain Balance Russ is a Health and Wellness Coach and loves running for charities. In 2015 he ran the NYC Marathon under the TEAM for Kids, raising money for youth track programs in the five boroughs. He is incredibly excited to be joining the Brain Balance Team and to engage in this revolutionary program with children and families!
Assessor and Program Coach
Tia has always been intrigued by one thing in particular: the brain. She always took interest in learning about the workings of the mind – especially one that is still developing. Her interest eventually became the road map for her life. After realizing her deep passion for psychology, she decided to pursue it as her main study and career path. Tia now holds a bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from Bay Path University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Less than a year after completing her undergraduate career, she found her way to Brain Balance Achievement Center.
Having prior experience working with behaviorally challenged children in an after school program, she had a solid understanding of the population she wanted to serve. Her heart held a special place for kids struggling in school. What she liked about Brain Balance specifically was its unique and holistic approach to addressing the common issues faced in classrooms. Also, she would have the opportunity to learn more about the brain and body.
Tia’s enthusiasm for the field of psychology and education continues to grow. Moving forward, she plans to continue advancing her education and work toward her ultimate goal of becoming a child psychologist and professor. In the meantime, she is enjoying both working at Brain Balance and filling her free time with hobbies related to fitness and art. She very much looks forward to the knowledge and experiences she will gain at Brain Balance.
Michael has been working with children with varying abilities in an array of settings since he was sixteen years old. When he was in the 8th grade he knew he wanted to be a teacher and started working with kids from that point on. Starting out as a camp counselor in his hometown of East Longmeadow, he realized in that position, that working with children was the right decision.
Michael earned a Bachelor’s degree in Health Education from Bridgewater State University in 2013. He went on to teach Physical Education in Springfield Public Schools for four years. He then worked as a one-to-one paraprofessional with a five year old who had Autism in West Springfield. This past February, he became the Physical Education teacher at Chicopee Academy where he still works today.
Program Coach & Assessor
Lizzi Graves joined the Brain Balance team this year as a Program Intern from Bay Path University. She became interested in Brain Balance after hearing another undergraduate deliver a presentation at Bay Path about Brain Balance and what the program entailed. Her interest to learn more, inspired her to reach out to the center for any learning opportunities. The main factor that really stuck out from the presentation, was the opportunity to work closely with children as they transform in the best they can become.
She is currently a senior, finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, she hopes to utilize her major to help others as much as possible while continuing to advance her degree. In her spare time, Lizzie loves to dance and brings her understanding of the body, through a dance perspectives, to her work at Brain Balance. She has been dancing ever since she was three and now teaches at the dance studio she grew up in. She also is the Dance Company captain at Bay Path this year.
Lauren LeClair, M.S.
Alternate Coach/Special Events
Lauren joined the Brain Balance team with a little help from fate. She was working at a book store while finishing her Master’s degree in Psychology, when she ran into the center director and had a conversation about the book she was purchasing, “Disconnected Kids.” Lauren was writing a paper on ADHD for her Cognitive Neuropsychology Course. Lauren quickly emailed the center director that night and set up some time to see the center and learn more about Brain Balance. Lauren became an intern two days later. Although she has her hands in many things, Lauren works at the front desk and on special projects for our center, and also coaches in the Cognitive Room on Saturdays.
Lauren has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Westfield State University in Psychology, with a Minor in Art. At one point, Lauren almost went into Art Therapy at Lesley University in Boston, a guidance counselor program at Westfield State University, but later decided to receive a Master’s in Science with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology. Lauren brings great enthusiasm to anything we throw her way, whether it is being a back-up cognitive coach to developing new Google forms to streamline different projects. Lauren’s first jobs was working at the YMCA at Camp Shepard in Westfield, Barnes and Noble (13 years), Holyoke Community College, and currently volunteers at the Holyoke YMCA once a week. She loves kids, probably because she can match their energy and isn’t afraid of being silly.
Steven Carra, originally from the State of New York, has joined the Brain Balance Family of West Springfield after visiting the center on a class field trip. He was so taken by the philosophy and diversity of stimuli offered in the program that he could not help but to become a Coach. As of September of 2016 Steven is cross trained to facilitate hemispheric specific activities with students in both the Sensory Motor and Cognitive rooms.
Steven has an impressive background working with young people, spanning grades from Pre-Kindergarten through High School Seniors. Steven is also an Elementary School Physical Educator and is completing his Masters in Adaptive Physical Education at Springfield College. He has been working with students as a teacher, student teacher, or an athletics coach for the past seven years.
Steven’s core values in education and life stem from experiences growing up with two parents as educators. Focus on relationship building, routine, and continuous specific positive feedback are present in the nurturing environment he creates. At Brain Balance he strives to help students reach, or surpass goals by supporting an atmosphere that allows them to flourish as a complete person through the cognitive (mind), motor (body), and affective (interpersonal) domains of learning.
During Steven’s time of leisure he can always be found playing! Board games with his family and friends, arts and crafts nights, and especially training in the gym are all his idea of fun. Fun fact: Steven has been to Disney World 16 times.
Front Desk Manager, Assessor, & Substitute Coach
Shiloh became a member of our team in October of 2015. For the past 26 years, she has taught various forms of dance and technique to children and adults of all ages with a prime focus on (fine and gross) motor skills, balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. In 2002, Shiloh opened her own dance studio that continues to be in business today. Working with an average of 100 students yearly, her goal was to create an enjoyable environment that would give children a place to explore their creativity and build their confidence while strengthening their body and minds.
After hearing about our program and its success with some of her own students, Shiloh knew Brain Balance was the perfect fit for her to continue to work in a rewarding field where she can be instrumental in helping children and families. Having previous experience with dancers who have struggled with many different issues, Shiloh was eager to join a team that continued to motivate and encourage individuals to reach their truest potential. Beginning her work here initially as an asessor, Shiloh can be seen doing many roles throughout the center- from working front desk and family support to coaching our students in both the sensory and cognitive rooms. She is honored to be a part of the Brain Balance team and the wonderful families that make it such a success!