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Woodbury, Connecticut

Balsavage Family Scholarship

Established by the Balsavage Family
Bio written by Elizabeth Johnsen, in the words of her mother, Martha

You might ask, why English?

The Balsavage family lived in Woodbury during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  They lived for a period of time in Hotchkissville, on Catswamp Road and on Flanders Road.  During that time, John was a tool engineer at Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury and Martha was a stay at home mom.  All three of their children attended the Woodbury Public Schools.  They were an ordinary hard working family filling their lives with church, Garden Club, Junior League, sailing, ice skating, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Little League, Drum Corp and activities with their many friends.

This is Martha’s story.  It all started with discovering that my eldest daughter was dyslexic.  Dyslexia is a language difficulty involving learning to read, spell or write.  In our case, that language is English.  The condition is hereditary and I had struggled with the same problem as a child, but was not diagnosed.  Remedial lessons were recommended for my daughter to help with the condition.  The lessons were more expensive than the family finances could support, so I asked to be trained to help my children.  As I learned, I helped my children and even took on other students outside of my family.  I also trained other new teachers in the Orton Gillingham method of dealing with dyslexia.  I worked for a period of time at various private schools and a clinic I established in my home.  I was limited in my teaching by the fact that I did not have a college degree. So in middle age I went to college.  I attended Southern Connecticut University where I earned a BS in Special Education and an MS in Learning Disabilities.  I developed my own teaching strategy and teaching dyslexic students became my life.

Another area of interest in my life is Genealogy.  This also turned out to bring a connection to the English language.  I discovered and am very proud of the fact that my eighth great grandmother, Anne Bradstreet, was the first woman whose work has come down to us from colonial time and who is at least the grandmother of American literature.

Lastly, it is very important to me that English remain the official language of the United States.  U.S. English is the nation’s oldest and largest non-partisan citizens’ action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States.  I support this organization.

If you would like to learn more about Woodbury Scholarship Fund Dollars for Scholars®, contact us at or by mail at P.O. Box 716, Woodbury, CT  06798.