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June 6, 2006

Hardyston resident's company helps show upgrade NJ home

From: New Jersey Herald, NJ - Jun 6, 2006

Herald Staff Writer

SPARTA — A Hardyston resident got a little taste of the spotlight when she was filmed at work for a popular television show.

Asheley Little teaches computer classes for Imagine Tomorrow, a custom software program that turns children ages 2 to 7 into computer detectives, helping them solve technical problems while learning basic computer functions.

Last month, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" decided to drop in for a class in Montclair, at one of the centers where Little, 23, works. In its third season, the show, which remodels chosen people's homes, was working on a project in Bergen County.

Paul DiMeo, one of the show's carpenters and designers, attended a class with the film crew because he wanted to add a technology room to the house they were building, Little said recently as she sat at the Imagine Tomorrow Center in Sparta. A resident of the Stockholm section of Hardyston, Little teaches one day a week at the centers in Sparta and Montclair and spends her other three work days teaching portable classes, bringing laptops to various venues.

"At first they were just going to film the children and ask questions, but then about 45 minutes before they came they said Paul DiMeo was going to take a class with the kids," said Little, who learned of the show's stop only a day before the filming.

About eight children between the ages of 3 and 5 participated in the class, completing their daily mission as if the film crew's presence was an everyday occurrence. The lesson was about pressing the F1 key for help, said Little, who assisted teaching the class alongside teacher Laura Vorlieff.

"(DiMeo) was such a good sport," she said. "The kids were teaching him stuff he didn't kno."

At the end of the class, DiMeo even received a badge with a star, the reward the children receive at the end of every mission, Little said.

DiMeo attended the class to "show how important technology can be," Little said.
The owner of the Sparta Imagine Tomorrow center, Jamie Gecz, said her classes have been steadily growing.

"People are starting to get how important it is for you to teach your children computers," she said. Gecz, 23, bought a license to open the center last year and already has 45 children in her classes and nearly 70 in her portable classes.

Little said she was surprised how quickly even the youngest pupils can pick up computer skills.

"I don't think I had a computer until I was in sixth grade and I didn't have the Internet until high school, and we have 4-year-olds who are typing with two hands," she said with a laugh.

Filmed in the first week of May, the episode takes place in Bergenfield, where a family of six lives, said Diane Korman, senior producer for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Although the episode is not scheduled, the show is expected to air on ABC in July, Korman said.

Without releasing their names, Korman described the hardships that qualified the family for a makeover: The father, grandmother and two of their daughters are blind from aniridia, a genetic and congenital eye condition. The family's third child, a boy, is deaf because his mother had the German measles during her pregnancy, Korman said.

"This is a family with what we might call disabilities, but to them, they're just a normal family," Korman said of the family that immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1987.

The family was living in small, multi-tiered house that made it hard to get around, Korman said.

"So, we thought we could do better for them," she said. "We wanted to give them an amazing home that reflected their spirit and love."

The house's redesign is a secret that will be revealed when the show airs, Korman said.

"The technology room is a secret as well, but I will tell you, there is a device in that room that allows a father that has never seen his son and a son that has never heard his father to be allowed to talk to each other for the first time," she said.

Little said she went to the filming of one of the final scenes, where the bus is moved out of the way and the family sees their new home.

"The other houses were so small in comparison," she said.

© 2006 The New Jersey Herald