On Saturday, September 8, Head of School Dr. Russell gave a speech to over 500 educators, academics, policymakers, psychologists, scientists, and parents from around the globe at the El Cerebro y La Lectura conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event brought together leaders in the scientific and educational fields to share advances in brain research, the learning process of reading, and scientifically-proven classroom practices.
Organized by Edicioines Logos, Intelexia, and INECO (Institute of Neuroscience and Education), and with the participation of the Haskins Laboratories, the conference fostered exchange between schools, psycho-pedagogical professionals, and specialists, as Argentina seeks to promote the learning of reading and the educational development of children in their early school years.
Dr. Russell’s speech, entitled “Research-Based Program + Direct Instruction = Proven Results,” presented the outstanding results that Windward students have achieved because of the School’s research-based curriculum and the highly-trained, expert teachers’ use of direct instruction. Additionally, he participated in a Q&A panel along with fellow keynote speakers Phyllis Bertin, co-author of the Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) reading program and Director of Reading at the Windward Teacher Training Institute; Manuel Carreiras, researcher at BCBL (Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language-San Sebastian); Kenneth Pugh, President and Director of Research at Haskins Laboratories; and Florencia Salvarezza, Director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Education at the INECO Foundation.
Dr. Russell attended the El Cerebro y La Lectura conference at the invitation of one of the event organizers and Windward parent, Magdalena Zavalia Miguens. As a co-founder of the organization Intelexia, Ms. Miguens is an advocate for improving reading literacy for at-risk children in Latin America, as the current instruction in schools fails 60% of students across the continent.
Although she is a lawyer by training, Ms. Miguens attended seminars at Windward and became fascinated with how the brain learns to read and how children with language-based learning disabilities, like her two sons, can best be taught to read. She experienced firsthand as a parent how incredibly powerful a Windward education was for her children, and she wondered if a similar scientifically-proven program existed to benefit struggling Spanish language readers. She took many courses through the Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI) to become more immersed in the research of the brain, teaching methodologies, and instruction for struggling readers.
Ms. Miguens connected with Ms. Bertin after taking the “Multisensory Reading Instruction: Preventing Academic Failure (PAF)” class, which is the program followed by The Windward School for its reading curriculum. She approached Ms. Bertin to ask if they could co-author a Spanish language writing program, inspired by the methodology of PAF. After three years of writing and prototyping with teachers in Argentinian classrooms, the Aprendo Leyendo reading program was established.
Students in Argentina face many systemic issues such as widespread poverty, nutrition deficits, and inadequate transportation to get to school, but Ms. Miguens hopes the Aprendo Leyendo program can be one classroom solution to improving literacy, not only for those with dyslexia, but for all Argentinian children. Although recently launched, Aprendo Leyendo is already being implemented with over 700 students in public and independent schools in Buenos Aires. During the 2019-20 school year, they will add more than 10,000 public school students from at-risk areas. In addition, Intelexia is heightening awareness of how the program can make a significant impact in the Latin American education system.
In many places around the world, a school specifically for students with language-based learning disabilities is a novelty, so The Windward School was regarded at the El Cerebro y La Lectura conference as a thought leader in how to best teach struggling students to read through a research-based methodology. The event allowed Dr. Russell and Ms. Bertin the opportunity to share the mission of the School beyond the Windward campuses and continue the School’s leadership internationally.
Pictured are: Andrés Delich, President of Organization of Iberoamerican States; Juan Segura, Education Consultant; Dr. John J. Russell, Head of The Windward School; Kenneth Pugh, President and Director of Research at Haskins Laboratories; Phyllis Bertin, Co-author of PAF and Director of Reading at the Windward Teacher Training Institute; Florencia Salvarezza, Linguist and Director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Education; Manuel Carreiras, Scientific Director of the Basque Center on Cognition, Spain; Magdalena Zavalia Miguens, Co-founder of Intelexia; and Jorge Chrestia, Founder of Ediciones Logos.
If you would like to hear from additional Windward leaders, join Associate Head of School Jon Rosenshine and Research Associate/Middle School Teacher Danielle Scorrano at the Community Lecture on Thursday, November 1 from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the Westchester Middle School campus. They will be presenting “Beyond the Buzzwords of Grit and Resilience: The Research Behind Motivation, Performance and Well-being.” Registration is free but required. RSVP online at thewindwardschool.org/lecture.