The Science of Brain Development

Dr. JoAnn Deak, an internationally recognized expert on child development, joined Brookwood’s faculty Monday for what several teachers have described as the most valuable professional-development day of their careers. Dr. Deak immersed our faculty in the science of brain development, dispensing volumes of practical advice on research-based instructional practices. Her guidance included low-hanging fruit that some teachers have already implemented (such as a spurt of morning exercise to deliver blood to the brains of growing children) since her departure. Many teachers discovered that what feels intuitive (brief periods of content delivery, for example, punctuated by opportunities to make sense of that information) is validated by sturdy research. It was a day that found the Brookwood staff rejoicing in the awesome power we have as professionals who are entrusted daily with the nurturing of incredible, powerful, malleable machines—children.

Dr. Deak has spent more than thirty years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or significant ‘brain sculptors’ of children. She is the author of four books, including The Driver’s Manual for Your Adolescent Brain and Your Fantastic Elastic BrainOn her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “Every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Monday's professional-development day was made possible by Kent Lenci (Grade 7 History Teacher, Advisor and PGD Coordinator) and Katie Alexander (Kindergarten Teacher), both of whom were appointed 2016-2018 Amory Parker Chairs. The Amory Parker Chair is an endowed chair at Brookwood School that was funded through the generosity of the Parker and de Lacvivier families. It's purpose is to provide funds in perpetuity for professional development programs at the school. Since 1998, teams of two teachers, who are elected by their peers, pair up for a two-year tenure and delve into an educational topic. They not only continue their individual education and exploration, they educate their colleagues at Brookwood by holding seminars and workshops.