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Neuroscience and Education: The Connection

Date: June 05, 2014 to June 06, 2014

Time: 7:30AM to 3:00PM

Location: Currey Ingram Academy, 6544 Murray Lane, Brentwood, TN

Neuroscience and Education: The Connection
A Summer Symposium hosted by the Annette Eskind Institute of Learning at Currey Ingram Academy and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Thursday and Friday, June 5-6, 2014

Location: Currey Ingram Academy, 6544 Murray Lane, Brentwood, TN. Click here to view a map.

This is a one-stop symposium for educators and other professionals to hear about the latest brain research as it relates to education and to learn the latest evidence-based strategies for implementing this research in the classroom. Other topics covered will include, but are not limited to, ADHD, sensory integration, technology, anxiety, reading, sleep, and executive functioning.

Registration: $175 for professionals, $100 for students

Registration will open on Feb. 15 and remain open until Thursday, May 15, or until capacity is reached. Registration is confirmed upon receipt of payment. Breakfast is included both mornings. Participants will receive a professional development certificate as well. If choosing the payment by check option, registration is not complete until a check is received. Please note, there are no discounts for partial or one-day registration. Each person attending the symposium is required to fill out an individual registration form.

Checks and purchase orders can be made out to Currey Ingram Academy, with "Neuroscience" in the memo line, These can be mailed to 6544 Murray Lane, Brentwood, TN 37027.

Please contact Kathy Boles or Holly McCathren if you need help or have questions regarding the symposium or registration.


  • Day One: June 5
  • 7:30-8:15 a.m.: Registration/Breakfast
  • 8:15-9:45 a.m.: Plenary Lecture by Robert Brooks, Ph.D.: Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation & Resilience in Students
  • 9:45-10:00 a.m.: Transition
  • 10:00-11:15 a.m.: Session 1A: Melanie Schuele, Ph.D.: Phonological Awareness for Children, Explicit Phonological Awareness for Educators;
    Session 1B: Robert Brooks, Ph.D.: Can You Take Care of Your Students if You Don’t Take Care of Yourself?
  • 11:15-11:45 a.m.: CIA Tour, Networking Booths, StudyFinder, etc.
  • 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Lunch
  • 12:45-2:00 p.m.: Session 2A: Sheryl Rimrodt, M.D.: Learning Disabilities in a Life Course Context: Road Signs along the Highway of Life;
    Session 2B: Gavin Price, Ph.D.: The Numerical Brain: Neural and Cognitive Foundations of Numbers and Math
  • 2:00-2:15 p.m.: Transition
  • 2:15-3:45 p.m.: Session 3A: Jane Hannah, Ed.D.: The Reality of ADHD: Moving Past Myths and Stereotypes;
    Session 3B: Kecia Ray, Ed.D. and Kevin Goscha: Gaming Reality, The New Normal: Trends in TechEd will Ignite Your Mind
  • 3:45-4:30 p.m.: Shuttle to Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
  • 4:30-5:45 p.m.: Vanderbilt Tour and Reception
  • 5:45-6:15 p.m.: Return to Currey Ingram Academy
  • Day Two: June 6
  • 8:00-8:30 a.m.: Registration/Breakfast
  • 8:30-9:45 a.m.: Plenary Lecture by Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.: How Neuroscience Informs Education, and How Education Enlightens Neuroscience
  • 9:45-10:00 a.m.: Transition
  • 10:00-11:15 a.m.: Session 4A: Beth Malow, M.D., M.S.: The Gift of a Good Night’s Sleep: Helping our Children (and Ourselves) Sleep Through the Night;
    Session 4B: Martha Denckla, M.D.: The Impact of Executive Function and Dysfunction on Academics
  • 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Lunch
  • 12:15-1:30 p.m.: Session 5A: Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.: Neurobiological and Cognitive Correlates of Reading (Dis)Ability;
    Session 5B: Courtney Gallaher, M.S., OTR/L: One Day On, One Day Off: Understanding Sensory Processing Disorders in the Classroom
  • 1:30-1:45 p.m.: Transition
  • 1:45-3:00 p.m.: Session 6A: Danielle Barton, Ed.D.: Making the Writing Process Work: Strategies to Help the Struggling Writer;
    Session 6B: David Dia, Ph.D.: Anxiety Treatment: Improving Outcomes with Cutting Edge Research

Plenary Lectures and Speakers:

Robert Brooks, Ph.D.: Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation & Resilience in Students

Dr. Robert Brooks has lectured nationally and internationally to audiences of parents, educators, mental health professionals, and business people on topics pertaining to motivation, resilience, family relationships, and the qualities of effective leaders and executives. He has also written extensively about these topics and is the author or co-author of 15 books including Raising Resilient Children; Nurturing Resilience in Our Children: Answers to the Most Important Parenting Questions; and Understanding and Managing Children’s Classroom Behavior. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has received numerous awards for his work. For more information, visit www.drrobertbrooks.com.

Dr. Brooks will describe the mindset of educators and other professionals who touch both the hearts and minds of students. He will describe the basic features of this mindset, including (a) the lifelong impact that educators have on resilience in students, (b) the importance of empathy in understanding and responding effectively to students, (c) the significance of a strength-based model in which each student’s “islands of competence” are identified and reinforced, (d) a framework for understanding the main components of intrinsic motivation, and (e) practical, realistic strategies for nurturing intrinsic motivation, learning, responsibility, and resilience in students of all ages.

Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.: How Neuroscience Informs Education, and How Education Enlightens Neuroscience

Dr. Cutting is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Associate Professor of Special Education, Psychology, Radiology and Pediatrics, and Faculty Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic. Laurie Cutting's research program is focused on understanding brain-behavior relations as related to learning and communication in children and adolescents. Her research is particularly focused on reading disabilities, language, and executive function. She also studies the cognitive and neurobiological profile of Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a genetic disorder that is commonly characterized by learning disabilities in childhood. Cutting uses methodologies such as neuropsychological testing in combination with various neuroimaging techniques (e.g., DTI, fMRI) and experimental measures, and some of her studies also include intervention components. Her overall research program focuses on understanding both the neurobiological and behavioral aspects of these disorders, with the goal of better understanding their etiology in order to ultimately design the most optimal interventions.

This presentation will review how neuroscience has contributed to the understanding of the biological bases and origins of learning disabilities, as well as review how the field of education provides important insights for neuroscience. Additionally, some of the challenges and future directions in Neuroscience and Education will be reviewed.

Breakout Session Speakers and Lectures:

Session 1A: Melanie Schuele, Ph.D., Phonological Awareness for Children, Explicit Phonological Awareness for Educators
Multiple investigations have demonstrated that educators (and adults at-large) perform poorly on tasks that require analysis of speech sounds. For example, only 25% of educators report that box has four sounds; most commonly educators report that box has three sounds. The findings fly in the face of simple logic. If phonological awareness is a skill that underlies learning to read, how is it that literate adults seem to have such limited phonological awareness? In this presentation, we contrast the construct of “explicit phonological awareness” with “phonological awareness” to explain the performance of adults and children on measures of phonological awareness, practice tasks that aim to improve educators’ explicit phonological awareness, and consider the importance of explicit phonological awareness to evidence-based teaching practices.

Session 1B: Robert Brooks, Ph.D., Can You Take Care of Your Students if You Don’t Take Care of Yourself?
Many dedicated educators, faced with increasing demands and decreasing support, experience stress and burnout in their profession. These feelings can compromise effective teaching, including an educator's relationships with students. In his presentation Dr. Brooks will describe a framework with specific techniques for developing "stress hardiness" and lessening burnout in school professionals. He will highlight the dimensions of (a) commitment and purpose, (b) challenge, and (c) "personal control" as key components of this framework. The development of stress hardiness is of very significant in the process of creating a positive school climate in which learning is enriched and both students and professionals thrive.

Please click here for more information on Dr. Brooks.

Session 2A: Sheryl Rimrodt, M.D., Learning Disabilities in a Life Course Context: Road Signs Along the Highway of Life
Sheryl Rimrodt, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Medicine, and the Faculty Clinic Director for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Learning Assessment Clinic. Dr. Rimrodt is a pediatrician and specialist in neurodevelopmental disabilities. The goal of her work is to better understand the variability and range of reading comprehension difficulties experienced by children and adolescents. She and her colleagues use psychoeducational testing to study the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension beyond the level of single word reading accuracy and neuroimaging to study the neural correlates (functional, structural, anatomical, and neurochemical) of typical versus poor reading comprehension in children and adolescents.

Life Course theory focuses on how earlier life events impact later health and development outcomes. As a developmental pediatrician who sees children with a variety of school-related difficulties, my goal with each patient is to understand current school, home, and social challenges in the context of the past life course of the child and family. This will be an interactive session highlighting frequently encountered features of a school age child’s past history that can provide clues about the roots of current problems and suggest potential strategies to modify the trajectory of the individual’s life course.

Session 2B: Gavin Price, Ph.D., The Numerical Brain: Neural and Cognitive Foundations of Numbers and Math
As many as 1 in 4 individuals fail to develop the mathematical and numerical skills necessary for successful participation in modern society. Such failure leads to increased unemployment, lower lifetime earnings, and increased probability of arrest and incarceration. Educational Neuroscience offers exciting opportunities to uncover the brain mechanisms which support the development of math competence, and can potentially contribute to the development of targeted educational interventions. In this session Dr. Price will present findings from behavioral and neuroimaging research that provide insight into how the human brain comes to represent and process numbers and numerical information, how those processes support the development of mathematical competence, and what is different about the brains of children with mathematical learning disabilities.

Session 3A: Jane Hannah, Ed.D., The Reality of ADHD: Moving Past Myths and Stereotypes
Jane N. Hannah, Ed.D. is Division Head for the Lower School at Currey Ingram Academy. She was Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University from 1991–2000 and worked as a Behavior and Learning Specialist, while directing the Summer Day Treatment Program (STP) for children with an Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Dr. Hannah is a former classroom and special education teacher, as well as a supervisor of special education in a Tennessee public school system. Dr. Hannah works with parents, teachers and other professionals in developing appropriate interventions for children with educational, social and/or behavioral struggles. She has led parent education workshops and has written the book Parenting a Child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and is a member of the National Expert Work Group on diagnosing and treating ADHD and has written numerous articles on ADHD and learning disabilities, as well as presented over 50 workshops for parents and teachers.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder that affects far more than a student's behavior. The old definition that supported the view that ADHD was a "behavior disorder" is being replaced with a new understanding that ADHD is a developmental impairment on the executive functions of the brain.

Session 3B: Kecia Ray, Ed.D., and Kevin Goscha, Gaming Reality, The New Normal: Trends in TechEd will Ignite Your Mind
Dr. Kecia Campbell-Ray began her career as a middle school science teacher. She taught in one of the first 21st century classrooms in the state of Tennessee. Her passion for technology, combined with her desire to increase student engagement, led her to conduct research in assessing technology literacy. She was the director of technology research in the Office of Science Outreach at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She has been a member of ISTE for more than 20 years and served as president of the Special Interest Group for Online Learning (SIGOL). She is also the author of three books and several papers focused on designing instruction with technology. She currently serves Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools as the executive director of Learning Technology.

Kevin Goscha is the Technology Director and has worked at Currey Ingram for 13 years. He has helped with systems administration, assistive technology, professional development and curriculum integration for our 1:1 laptop program. He is a member of the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools Technology Institute Steering and Teacher Services Committees and was nominated by the International Society for Technology in Education to travel to China as part of the Technology in Education Delegation in 2010.

The advent of gamification research, mobile devices, assistive technology, and augmented reality have revolutionized the possibilities for teaching and can be applied in all fields. Come experience the cutting edge of virtual experience to see how you can stay ahead of the curve applying technology in your discipline.

Session 4A: Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., The Gift of a Good Night’s Sleep: Helping Our Children (and Ourselves) Sleep Through the Night
Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., is the Burry Chair in Cognitive Childhood Development, Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Division, and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Investigator. Her primary focus is on interrelationship of sleep and neurological disease. Dr. Malow is board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine, and she has published extensively in the field of sleep medicine. She fosters multidisciplinary collaborations examining the relation of sleep and sleep disorders to a variety of neurological, medical, and psychiatric disorders, including developmental disabilities, e.g., autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Williams syndrome.

Sleep difficulties are very common across the lifespan, including in childhood and adolescence. One of the most prominent sleep problems is insomnia, with difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, and early morning awakenings. Another common sleep problem is obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep difficulties can prevent our children from functioning at their best during the day and are associated with inattention and hyperactivity, as well as contribute to parental stress. The good news is that sleep difficulties are easily treatable. Identifying and treating sleep problems therefore represents an opportunity to not only improve sleep but also the daytime functioning of children and their families. In this session, the causes, diagnosis, and treatments for common sleep difficulties will be discussed. The focus will be on all children, although subsets of children who are even more susceptible to sleep difficulties, such as those with autism spectrum disorders or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, will be highlighted.

Session 4B: Martha Denckla, M.D., The Impact of Executive Function and Dysfunction on Academics
Dr. Martha Bridge Denckla is a research scientist and director of the Developmental Cognitive Neurology Department at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also a professor of neurology, pediatrics and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

This symposium will review the construct of Executive Function, how it relates to academic functioning, and its neurobiological correlates. Additionally, the impact of Executive Function deficits on learning will be reviewed.

Session 5A: Laurie Cutting, Ph,D., Neurobiological and Cognitive Correlates of Reading (Dis)Ability
This presentation will review neurobiological and cognitive findings as related to reading development and disabilities. Both decoding as well as reading comprehension processes will be discussed.

Session 5B: Courtney Gallaher, M.S., OTR/L, One Day On, One Day Off: Understanding Sensory Processing Disorders in the Classroom
Courtney Gallaher, MS,OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist from Currey Ingram Academy. She joined the Currey Ingram faculty in 2007, where she has been an integral part of unifying the handwriting curriculum for grades K-4. Courtney is an advocate for handwriting in the classroom, and one of her passions includes presenting to educators and parents. Courtney has a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Belmont University and 14 years of combined experience in clinical and educational practice.

Ms. Gallaher will address the impact sensory processing disorders have on student development and performance. Poor emotional regulation, inconsistent behavioral responses and inadequate classroom products can be a result of sensory processing challenges rather than defiance, inattention or will. Examples of how sensory processing difficulties manifest in the classroom as well as strategies to support student performance will be presented.

Session 6A: Danielle Barton, Ed.D., Making the Writing Process Work: Strategies to Help the Struggling Writer
Danielle Barton, Ed.D., is the Currey Ingram‘s Lower School Assistant Division Head. Dr. Barton has been a teacher and administrator at the Academy for nine years. She earned her undergraduate degree in Special Education from the University of Evansville, and earned both her Masters in Special Education and Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.

This session will provide an overview of evidence-based practices for teaching written expression. She will offer specific ideas to use at each stage of the writing process and provide tips for supporting students in utilizing writing strategies.

Session 6B: David Dia, Ph.D., Anxiety Treatment: Improving Outcomes with Cutting Edge Research
David Dia received his MSW and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College of Social Work. He completed his cognitive behavioral therapy training at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, under the guidance of Dr. Arthur Freeman, a long time clinician of Aaron Beck’s (Developer of CBT). Dr. Dia went on for advanced training and supervision in the treatment of anxiety disorders with Dr. Sally Winston, a nationally recognized expert in the field of anxiety disorders. Dr. Dia also completed two separate Behavioral Therapy Institutes. One given by the Trichotillomania Learning Center and the other by the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. His work has been featured on Discovery/TLC, the Dr. Oz Show and A & E. Dr. Dia has been in private practice for more than 16 years and was an assistant professor at The University of Tennessee, College of Social Work for five years and is currently an Adjunct Professor with the University of Memphis. It is important to him to remain current and provide the most up-to-date, research-based treatment approaches, therefore he limits his practice to anxiety and related disorders. He works with children, adolescents, and adults.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective and evidenced-based treatment approach for anxiety disorders. An effective component to anxiety treatment involves the technique of “exposure.” Habituation has been the science that has guided the effectiveness of exposure, but new research disagrees. Additionally, individuals with anxiety who improve with CBT treatment have been prone to relapse. This workshop will briefly review our current approach to anxiety treatment and then shift the focus to advances in research and what it says about the new science of fear reduction. Based on the new research, this workshop will cover new ways to implement traditional strategies to decrease the likelihood of relapse.

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reception and Tour:

Neuroscience and education research are strengths of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, a national Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center and a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Join us for an overview of the Education and Brain Sciences Research Lab and tours of the Psychophysiology Laboratory and the Vanderbilt University Institute for Imaging Science.

Continuing Education Credits:

This course is offered for 1.2 ASHA CEU’s (intermediate level; professional area). ASHA CEUs and a Certificate of Attendance are provided upon request.

Hotel Accommodations:

Due to the Country Music Association music event this week, hotel rooms are at a premium. Blocks of rooms are available at three local hotels (all within 15 minutes driving distance of Currey Ingram Academy). These rooms will be released in early May, so please make your reservation when you register.

Institutional Sponsors:

  • Annette Eskind Institute of Learning at Currey Ingram Academy
  • Currey Ingram Academy
  • Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
  • Vanderbilt Brain Institute
  • Vanderbilt Peabody College

Special thanks goes to Cherrie Farnette.

For more information, contact Holly McCathren at holly.mccathren@curreyingram.org or Kathy Boles at kathy.boles@curreyingram.org or by calling (615) 777-4816.


The VKC welcomes persons with disabilities.

Contact kc@vumc.org or 615-322-8240 for disability access information; 2 weeks advance notice is recommended for some accommodations (e.g., Braille, signing).