Tuesday,
September 23, 2014

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Grant to Support Reasoning Program at West Dallas Middle School

Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino

Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino directs the Center for BrainHealth’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative, which has trained more than 15,000 teens across the country.

A $250,000 grant will help a Center for BrainHealth project to improve advanced reasoning skills at a West Dallas middle school.

The Communities Foundation of Texas gift will provide research-based high performance brain training for students, teachers, leadership and parents at Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center in West Dallas.

“The brain’s frontal networks are undergoing extensive changes during adolescence, making middle school an optimal time to train innovative thinking and reasoning skills,” said Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair. “Elevating brainpower during this impressionable life stage is imperative to promote success in school, in the workforce and in life.”

Edison is located in the 11th-poorest ZIP code in the nation. Its students come from predominantly low socio­economic status backgrounds.

Dr. Sandra Chapman

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, the founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth, says it is crucial to train middle school students in reasoning skills to promote success later in life.

The Center for BrainHealth’s brain training program called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training) has yielded measurable improvements in middle school students of all socioeconomic levels. Longitudinal studies have shown improved grades and standardized test performance in SMART-trained students as well as increased higher-level reasoning ability by as much as 50 percent. Research also shows participants are more likely to take more challenging classes, graduate from high school on time and attend college.

“We have seen the SMART program transform classrooms across the country,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of BrainHealth’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative, which has trained more than 200 teachers and 15,000 teens across the country. “Teachers who have implemented the program report a more energized, creative and thought-filled classroom, and parents have stated their children are more confident and excited to learn. By bringing the interactive and engaging SMART learning environment to an entire school, we will give every child at Edison greater opportunity to reach his or her academic potential.”

Through the SMART program, teachers and students will have a new approach to learning that will have a life-changing impact thanks to BrainHealth’s innovative neuroscience-based approach.

Brent Christopher,
Communities Foundation of Texas president and CEO

The Communities Foundation of Texas grant will fund comprehensive professional development training for all teachers and school leadership at Edison, as well as provide parent education opportunities aimed at creating a supportive home environment. Nine English,language arts and reading teachers have been trained to teach a series of 10, 45-minute SMART sessions, which encourage students to use higher-level thinking skills such as asking thoughtful questions and making meaningful connections to practical situations and discourage rote thinking and responses.

Another 70 teachers and school leaders will be taught skills to help incorporate high performance brain training concepts into their existing curriculum. Once the initial professional development takes place, the Center for BrainHealth will provide additional in-classroom modeling and support for teachers, lesson planning, curriculum extension and additional professional development.

“This grant to Center for BrainHealth’s SMART program is one of the many ways Communities Foundation of Texas is strategically investing in at-risk middle school youth,” said Brent Christopher, Communities Foundation of Texas president and CEO. “Through the SMART program, teachers and students will have a new approach to learning that will have a life-changing impact, thanks to BrainHealth’s innovative neuroscience-based approach.”

The Center for BrainHealth hopes to scale the SMART program initiative even further to engage more public middle schools in Texas and across the country. “We hope to build on this momentum and eventually saturate other Texas middle schools with the SMART program,” said Kimber Hartmann, the Center for BrainHealth’s development director. “With Communities Foundation of Texas’ initial investment, we are just beginning to create a proven model for national education and transformative academic excellence.”

Media Contact: Shelly Kirkland, UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, (214) 905-3007, shelly.kirkland@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu


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