Community Lectures

The Windward School and Windward Teacher Training Institute present two free community lectures open to the public in the spring and fall of each year. While the lectures are open to the public, registration is required. Please register using the form below.

The Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture


About the lecture:
Educational neuroscience is an emerging field of research that draws upon the disciplines of cognitive neuroscience, education, and psychology, with the goal of examining neurobiological processes as related to education. In this lecture, the neural mechanisms of reading, mathematics, and attention will be discussed as well as insights about how this emerging field can influence instructional practice. In addition, neurobiological approaches that may inform and refine our understanding of how to identify and treat reading difficulties will be discussed.

About Laurie E. Cutting, PhD
Laurie E. Cutting, PhD, is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education, Psychology and Human Development, Radiology, and Pediatrics and a Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt University. She is also Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, training faculty for Vanderbilt’s Neuroscience PhD program, and a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories. Her work focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of learning, with a particular emphasis on reading disabilities, language, and executive function. Currently, she is the principal investigator of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research projects on reading and reading comprehension and a co-investigator on other NIH- and National Science Foundation (NSF) - projects focused on cognitive development as well as reading and math development and intervention. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt, Dr. Cutting was is a research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an Associate Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University. She has authored or co-authored over 90 publications focusing on reading, reading disabilities, and other learning disorders and regularly reviews for the NIH and other government agencies

Past Speakers & Lectures

Fall Community Lectures

November 2017: Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair - Healthy Connections in the Digital Age

Easy access to the internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children and has affected our children’s development and capacities for healthy connections. In this lecture, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair will identify digital age challenges for families and educators and ways to strengthen children’s social and emotional development to help them grow to be responsible, resilient, confident, and capable young adults. She will share real-life stories from her clinical practice and her work with educators, experts, and families, including extensive interviews with students from preschool through high school and beyond. Dr. Steiner-Adair will offer insight and advice that help families and educators achieve greater understanding and confidence as they engage with the tech revolution unfolding in children’s lives.

Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair is a Clinical and Consulting Psychologist and Research Associate at Harvard Medical School and author of the award-winning book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age (Harper Collins). An internationally recognized expert in child development, education, and family relationships, she has consulted worldwide to over 600 independent and public schools and speaks at conferences on a wide range of topics including social and emotional intelligence, girl’s development, and best practices for technology at home, schools, and work.

Read more about Dr. Steiner-Adair at catherinesteineradair.com


October 2016: Dr. Mark Bertin

October 2015: Dr. David Anderson - The Evolution of Child Discipline and Behavior Management: Making Sense of Historical Perspectives

Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, or babysitter, anyone who interacts with children or adolescents can find themselves perplexed by the question of how best to deal with challenging behavior. And at times, it can feel like there are an overwhelming number of voices contributing to this discussion, from self-help books to print articles to news features that attempt to provide a balanced perspective on this issue. Can too much positive feedback for a child be a bad thing? If I was disciplined one way as a child, how much should I apply those strategies to my children or students? For this lecture, Dr. David Anderson will provide a framework for sifting through the often conflicting media perspectives on child discipline, contextualizing these issues in light of the most current psychological research.

David Anderson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and the Senior Director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute. He is devoted to ensuring that patients and their families receive innovative, evidence-based care, and he has expertise in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral parent training, school consultation and teacher training. Dr. Anderson is also passionate about outreach and advocacy efforts aimed at disseminating these interventions across diverse communities and settings. He has held clinical and research positions at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, The Help Group, the NYU Child Study Center, and the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. Dr. Anderson earned his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University.

Resources from the lecture:
  • Websites related to child mental health
  • School-based behavioral intervention
    • Akin-Little, A., Little, S.G., Bray, M.A., & Kehle, T. (2009). Behavioral interventions in schools: Evidence-based positive strategies. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
    • Pfiffner, L.J. (2011). All about ADHD. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Behavioral Intervention at Home
    • Barkley, R.A. (2013). Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents (3rd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Barkley, R.A., Robin, A.L., & Benton, C.M. (2013). Your defiant teen: 10 steps to resolve conflict and rebuilt your relationship. (2nd ed.) New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Kazdin, A.E. (2009). The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child. New York: First Mariner Books.

October 2014: Dr. Harold Koplewicz

More than 400 parents, teachers and educators gathered at the West Red Oak Lane Campus of The Windward School for the Fall Community Lecture of the 2014-2015 school year. Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., one of the nation’s leading innovators in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry and the president and founder of the Child Mind Institute (childmind.org), addressed the importance of recognizing common symptoms of anxiety in children and adolescents and when to intervene if it causes dysfunction.

In his outline of normative anxieties, Dr. Koplewicz cited the fears that children commonly experience at different developmental levels. Infants are often fearful of sudden loud noises, heights, strangers and separation. Preschool children may fear animals, the dark, storms and imaginary creatures, and they may begin to experience anticipatory anxiety (fear that they will encounter something that causes them anxiety). In the early school age years, children begin to experience specific realistic fears such as social acceptance and school achievement. By adolescence, children have developed the ability to think abstractly about fears that may include the pressure to achieve academically, get into a good college or conform to new social demands.

As Dr. Koplewicz profiled normal age-appropriate fears, he further explained that school can be the biggest stressor for some students. Along with the academic challenge of homework, schedules, organization, and performance assessments, there are such social factors as navigating friendships and managing social activities. Parental limits and expectations also contribute to the challenge of finding a comfortable social and emotional balance in a child’s life.

Dr. Koplewicz reminded the audience that, in most cases, anxiety is a common, predictable, basic emotion. Ongoing excessive worry, nervousness or anxiety that is felt intensely and interferes with daily life, however, is considered a disorder. He also noted that an astounding 13% of American children and adolescents are affected by anxiety disorders, which are the greatest predictors of mood disorders and substance abuse in adulthood. More than 40 million adults in the U.S. (18%) have reported that disabling anxiety has negatively impacted their lives. For this reason, he emphasized the importance of early intervention.

In discussing the transition from common anxieties and fears to concerning behaviors, Dr. Koplewicz stated the importance of awareness of the following symptoms:

  • Physical complaints, such as headaches, stomach aches, dramatic presentations of pain
  • Problems falling asleep and chronic middle-of-thenight awakening
  • Eating problems
  • Avoidance of outside and interpersonal activities, such as school, parties, camp or sleepovers
  • Inattention and poor performance at school
  • Explosive outbursts

Because anxiety disorders are so common, it is easy to minimize them. However, ongoing untreated anxiety creates a neurochemical condition that primes the brain for increased risk of depression at puberty. Lack of treatment also leads to higher risk for doing poorly in school, which may have social consequences, increase the risk of substance abuse, and contribute to the development of a mood disorder.

In addition, childhood anxiety disorders often co-occur with other disorders. As with adults, about half of children presenting clinically with an anxiety disorder also meet criteria for at least one additional condition, which may include eating disorders, substance abuse, ADHD and behavioral problems. Untreated anxiety can further lead to more serious concerns such as school avoidance, lower self-esteem, academic dysfunction, impaired peer relations and potential problems adjusting to work situations.

Dr. Koplewicz encouraged the audience with his message of optimism that cognitive behavioral therapy can be a highly effective treatment for anxiety disorders. With this approach, the therapist gradually exposes the child, in a safe, controlled setting to the situation that triggers their fear in order to help them learn to tolerate the anxiety until it diminishes. As the Windward Community Lecture came to conclusion, Dr. Koplewicz summarized his theory that the best and most long-term solution for anxiety disorders is responsible, early intervention. Parents, teachers and educators came away from the lecture knowing when not to worry about their child’s worries and how to identify the signs and symptoms of children in need of more support.

October 2013: G. Emerson Dickman, JD

October 2012: Dr. Judith Hochman

Spring Schwartz Memorial Lectures

April 2017: Dr. Guinevere Eden

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, nearly 500 people attended the annual Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture presented by internationally recognized neuroscientist Dr. Guinevere Eden. In her presentation on “Decoding the Reading Brain: Lessons from Brain Imaging,” Dr. Eden described how she and her colleagues were the first to apply functional MRI (fMRI) to the study of dyslexia, and they have since used this brain-imaging technology to visually map the functions of the brain. Advances in brain imaging technology have enabled researchers to use non-invasive tools to understand the cognitive processes for language and reading acquisition. While fMRI scans have broadened our understanding of dyslexia, they have also helped neuroscientists discover the positive results of effective intervention to remediate dyslexia.

Dr. Eden’s research has significantly contributed to mapping the reading brain as well as understanding the neural correlates of dyslexia. At the lecture, she shared studies that show the differences in language and reading acquisition across different writing systems and oral languages. She also shared other studies that demonstrate how brain activity changes based on the age of when a person learns to read. For example, as young children learn how to read, the studies show increased activity in the area of the brain related to phonological awareness. These brain images have shown distinct differences in brain mapping based on a person’s native language, writing system, and level of reading development.

In dyslexia research, brain imaging has been integral in supporting and expanding existing behavioral studies. Dr. Eden presented many fMRI studies that charted differences in the reading brains of people with and without dyslexia. According to brain imaging studies of people with dyslexia, certain areas of the brain are under-activated during reading tasks. More recently, other brain imaging studies have shown that people with dyslexia also exhibit under-activated areas of the brain during mathematical procedures tasks.

Neuroscientists have also used brain imaging to demonstrate how effective interventions and instructional practices have changed the brains of struggling and pre-literate readers.In various studies of adults and children with dyslexia, fMRI imaging showed that new areas of the brain were activated after an intensive, structured, and multisensory intervention, demonstratingfurther evidence of neuroplasticity in the brain. Therefore, Dr. Eden emphasized the importance of seeking early intervention for struggling readers. Although brain imaging is not intended for individual diagnosis, aggregated findings from participants across a multitude of studies have provided new insights for neuroscience and education. Future brain imaging research and collaboration between scientific institutions and educational communities will continue to deepen our understanding of dyslexia and the developing reading brain. - Danielle Scorrano, The Windward School Research Associate

April 2016: Dr. Fumiko Hoeft

April 2015: Dr. John D. E. Gabrieli

"How Cognitive Neuroscience May Contribute to Helping People with Dyslexia"

Cognitive neuroscience, via neuroimaging, has revealed brain differences associated with difficulty in learning to read, and also brain plasticity associated with effective instruction. But how can basic science knowledge about the brain translate to actual help? Recent advances in brain research may begin to help in practical ways, such as more accurate early identification, diagnosis, and prognosis.

John Gabrieli is the Director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. He is an Investigator at the Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and in the Department of Psychiatry at MGH. His area of research is human cognitive neuroscience in which he studies the brain basis of memory, language, and thought. His recent research has focused on brain development in children and adolescents, including studies of dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. He is the first or senior author of over 250 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Science and Nature.

April 2014: Dr. Gordon Sherman

April 2013: Dr. Maryanne Wolf

About the lecture: "How Can Knowledge of the Reading Brain Advance Instruction and Change our View of Dyslexia"

This presentation will provide and overview of current work in the neurosciences on the development of the reading brain's new circuit and the importance of addressing the many components within this circuit in our teaching, prediction and diagnosis of dyslexia. A conceptualization of dyslexia that emphasizes the advantages conferred, along with disadvantages will be described.

Maryanne Wolf is the John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service and Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. She received her doctorate from Harvard University. Among her awards for teaching and research are Distinguished Professor of the Year award from the Massachusetts Psychological Association, Teaching Excellence Award from the American Psychological Association, Fulbright Fellowship, Distinguished Researcher Award from Tufts University, Norman Geschwind Lecture Award and the Samuel T. Orton Award from the International Dyslexia Association, and the NICHD Shannon Award for Innovative Research, the basis of the RAVE-O reading intervention program.

Wolf is the author of over 140 professional articles and also a book for the general public, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, which is translated into thirteen languages and an audio version. Dr. Wolf’s research interests include reading interventions, imaging studies of the developing reading brain, the genetic basis of dyslexia, early prediction, fluency and naming speed, cross-linguistic studies of reading, and the future of the reading brain in a digital culture. Her most recent research involves the development of a reading tablet to help children develop literacy both in regions of the world where there are no schools and in schools in the U.S. and other countries where there are too few teachers and resources.

April 2012: Dr. Kenneth Pugh

The Windward School was honored to host Ken Pugh, Ph.D., a distinguished research scientist in the field of language, reading and reading disabilities, at this year’s Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture. Held on the evening of Wednesday, April 6 at the Red Oak Lane campus, Dr. Pugh delivered an animated and detailed presentation to an audience of 450 people, including members of the Windward faculty and administration, as well as parents, physicians and educators from area schools.

Dr. Pugh serves as President, Director of Research and Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, an institution dedicated to the study of the biological basis of language. The laboratories are affiliated with both the University of Connecticut and Yale. Dr. Pugh also works as the director of the Yale Reading Center, which studies the neurobiological basis of reading disability and development. His lecture, Neuroimaging Studies of Reading and Language Development: An Update on Recent Findings, explained the manner in which scientists study the brain and the ways in which it is activated during the reading process by both typical and dyslexic readers.

In addition to Dr. Pugh, two of his assistants from Haskins Laboratories, Beth Eaton and Annie Stutzman, paid a visit to the School. Ms. Eaton and Ms. Stutzman spent the day at the School meeting with members of the administration to discuss Windward’s research-based program. The pair also observed reading and writing classes at both the Lower and Middle School campuses. Both women had strong praise for the School’s curriculum and faculty.

Dr. Pugh himself spent the evening of his lecture discussing the intricacies of using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to study brain activity. He detailed the manner in which the dyslexic brain differs from the typical brain, and how research-based, multisensory intervention of the type given at Windward changes brain activation patterns. Dr. Pugh explained how fMRI’s are producing positive changes in the ways in which researchers understand and ultimately treat dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities. A dedicated scientist with a flair for presenting complex topics in an engaging and applicable manner, Dr. Pugh spoke in great detail about the advancements being made in the field of reading disability research. The School was quite fortunate to host such a distinguished scholar to campus.

About the Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture

The annual Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture was established by Ms. Gail Ross in memory of her husband, Mr. Robert J. Schwartz, a compassionate and dedicated former member of the Board of Trustees who passed away in 1997. The lecture in his memory seeks to bring experts in the field of reading and reading disabilities to the School each spring.