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October 13, 2015

The Adversity Epidemic: Science, Schools and Social Equity

On October 13, 2015, leaders in education, health and social research joined to discuss child development in the face of adversity.

About the program: Human beings are the only mammals on the planet whose thinking, feeling and learning brain develops extensively after birth. Young brains are wired for growth, but their anatomical structure is exquisitely sensitive to experience and context, shaped for good or bad by what children live through and the relationships they form. Adversity matters, and today in high-poverty communities there is an epidemic of adversity. Children often internalize unremitting adversity as chronic stress, which has enormous implications for their health and educational outcomes.

The Reverend Dwight Davis is an 11-year veteran teacher and proud product of the District of Columbia Public Schools. For the past decade, he has served Wheatley Education Campus (WEC) as a fifth-grade teacher, English & language arts coach, home visits coordinator and teacher lead. Now serving as the assistant principal of Wheatley, Davis is working to partner with parents and the community in an effort to continue to raise achievement levels. As both a teacher and administrator, he is most passionate about the need for, and use of, culturally and contextually relevant texts in reading instruction.

In 2014, Davis was selected as a CityBridge Education Innovation Fellow, a distinguished honor that led him across the nation, from Washington, D.C. to California. Through the program, Davis learned how to better personalize the educational experiences of his students and he has applied that successfully in his WEC classroom. In 2012, Davis was a member of the Teach Plus D.C. Policy Fellowship, at which time he had the opportunity to learn about issues relevant to the local community, city and state, and worked to create solutions on the ground for high-need students. He has also partnered with the Flamboyan Foundation as home visit trainer, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival as an Aspen scholar and worked to align curriculum resources with the Common Core State Standards via the District of Columbia Public Schools Common Core Reading Corps.

Before his teaching career, Davis played both professional and semi-professional basketball within the United States and abroad. He earned a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in education from Princeton Theological Seminary, a certificate in teaching from Princeton University’s Program in Teacher Preparation, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, history and education from Albright College. Davis also completed a certificate program in reading and literacy at George Washington University. Recently, Davis published “High IMPACT: It’s the Feedback That Adds Value” in the book, Learning from the Experts: Teacher Leaders on Solving America’s Education Challenges, and he has written several op-eds for The Huffington Post.

Dwight Davis

The Reverend Dwight Davis is an 11-year veteran teacher and proud product of the District of Columbia Public Schools. For the past decade, he has served Wheatley Education Campus (WEC) as a fifth-grade teacher, English & language arts coach, home visits coordinator and teacher lead. Now serving as the assistant principal of Wheatley, Davis is working to partner with parents and the community in an effort to continue to raise achievement levels.

The Reverend Dwight Davis is an 11-year veteran teacher and proud product of the District of Columbia Public Schools. For the past decade, he has served Wheatley Education Campus (WEC) as a fifth-grade teacher, English & language arts coach, home visits coordinator and teacher lead. Now serving as the assistant principal of Wheatley, Davis is working to partner with parents and the community in an effort to continue to raise achievement levels. As both a teacher and administrator, he is most passionate about the need for, and use of, culturally and contextually relevant texts in reading instruction.

In 2014, Davis was selected as a CityBridge Education Innovation Fellow, a distinguished honor that led him across the nation, from Washington, D.C. to California. Through the program, Davis learned how to better personalize the educational experiences of his students and he has applied that successfully in his WEC classroom. In 2012, Davis was a member of the Teach Plus D.C. Policy Fellowship, at which time he had the opportunity to learn about issues relevant to the local community, city and state, and worked to create solutions on the ground for high-need students. He has also partnered with the Flamboyan Foundation as home visit trainer, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival as an Aspen scholar and worked to align curriculum resources with the Common Core State Standards via the District of Columbia Public Schools Common Core Reading Corps.

Before his teaching career, Davis played both professional and semi-professional basketball within the United States and abroad. He earned a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in education from Princeton Theological Seminary, a certificate in teaching from Princeton University’s Program in Teacher Preparation, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, history and education from Albright College. Davis also completed a certificate program in reading and literacy at George Washington University. Recently, Davis published “High IMPACT: It’s the Feedback That Adds Value” in the book, Learning from the Experts: Teacher Leaders on Solving America’s Education Challenges, and he has written several op-eds for The Huffington Post.

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James “Jim” Shelton is 2U’s chief impact officer, overseeing university partner program implement, research, and university relations. Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Morehouse College, as well as master’s degrees in both business administration and education from Stanford GSB and GSE.

Prior to 2U, Jim served as the Deputy Secretary and COO of the U.S. Department of Education and led a range of management, policy, and program functions in support of educational access and excellence for America’s children, especially those least advantaged. While in government, he also launched and led the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and served on and led multiple interagency efforts focused on increasing economic opportunity and entrepreneurship and building the enabling technology and R&D infrastructures to accelerate progress.

Earlier in his career, Jim opened the east coast offices of NewSchools Venture Fund and became the program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he managed a $2-3 billion portfolio of non-profit investments. He has chaired numerous non-profit boards and led domestic and international social sector initiatives ranging from economic development to voter education in emerging democracies. Jim currently resides in his hometown, Washington, D.C., with his wife and their two sons.

Jim Shelton

James “Jim” Shelton is 2U’s chief impact officer, overseeing university partner program implement, research, and university relations. Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Morehouse College, as well as master’s degrees in both business administration and education from Stanford GSB and GSE.

James “Jim” Shelton is 2U’s chief impact officer, overseeing university partner program implement, research, and university relations. Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Morehouse College, as well as master’s degrees in both business administration and education from Stanford GSB and GSE.

Prior to 2U, Jim served as the Deputy Secretary and COO of the U.S. Department of Education and led a range of management, policy, and program functions in support of educational access and excellence for America’s children, especially those least advantaged. While in government, he also launched and led the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and served on and led multiple interagency efforts focused on increasing economic opportunity and entrepreneurship and building the enabling technology and R&D infrastructures to accelerate progress.

Earlier in his career, Jim opened the east coast offices of NewSchools Venture Fund and became the program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he managed a $2-3 billion portfolio of non-profit investments. He has chaired numerous non-profit boards and led domestic and international social sector initiatives ranging from economic development to voter education in emerging democracies. Jim currently resides in his hometown, Washington, D.C., with his wife and their two sons.

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Katherine Brittain Bradley is the president of CityBridge Foundation, a nonprofit enterprise located in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Bradley co-founded CityBridge in 1994 with her husband, entrepreneur and magazine publisher David G. Bradley.

The Foundation works to build a citywide system of high-performing schools in Washington, D.C. CityBridge finds, incubates, and invests in the most promising practices in public education, looking to assemble, in the District, the critical mass of transformative schools—traditional public and charter—needed for the success of all children. To ensure the lasting success of this work, CityBridge offers a suite of engagement opportunities for local leaders in business, philanthropy, and the community. The goal is to equip these potential stewards for education with the knowledge and support they need to be advocates for continued, sustained progress in D.C. schools. All of this work involves conscious collaboration with these stewards, local leaders, and other stakeholders. CityBridge’s signature projects include the Early Years Initiative (2006-2011), the Education Innovation Fellowship, and Breakthrough Schools: D.C. (both launched in 2013).

Mrs. Bradley serves as a board member for the KIPP Foundation, Princeton University, and STAND for Children and chairs the Washington regional board for Teach For America. In the winter of 2010-2011, Mrs. Bradley co-chaired Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s education transition team. She graduated in 1986 from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and she and her husband have three sons.

Katherine Brittain Bradley

Katherine Brittain Bradley is the president of CityBridge Foundation, a nonprofit enterprise located in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Bradley co-founded CityBridge in 1994 with her husband, entrepreneur and magazine publisher David G. Bradley.

Katherine Brittain Bradley is the president of CityBridge Foundation, a nonprofit enterprise located in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Bradley co-founded CityBridge in 1994 with her husband, entrepreneur and magazine publisher David G. Bradley.

The Foundation works to build a citywide system of high-performing schools in Washington, D.C. CityBridge finds, incubates, and invests in the most promising practices in public education, looking to assemble, in the District, the critical mass of transformative schools—traditional public and charter—needed for the success of all children. To ensure the lasting success of this work, CityBridge offers a suite of engagement opportunities for local leaders in business, philanthropy, and the community. The goal is to equip these potential stewards for education with the knowledge and support they need to be advocates for continued, sustained progress in D.C. schools. All of this work involves conscious collaboration with these stewards, local leaders, and other stakeholders. CityBridge’s signature projects include the Early Years Initiative (2006-2011), the Education Innovation Fellowship, and Breakthrough Schools: D.C. (both launched in 2013).

Mrs. Bradley serves as a board member for the KIPP Foundation, Princeton University, and STAND for Children and chairs the Washington regional board for Teach For America. In the winter of 2010-2011, Mrs. Bradley co-chaired Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s education transition team. She graduated in 1986 from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and she and her husband have three sons.

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Todd Rose is the founder and president of the Center for Individual Opportunity (CIO), and the Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he teaches Educational Neuroscience. His work is focused on both advancing a deeper scientific understanding of individuals, and applying this knowledge in education to address the longstanding challenges of equity, opportunity, and effectiveness. Todd has published numerous scientific articles, and is the author of two books: Square Peg (Hachette, 2013) and The End of Average (HarperCollins, 2016). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

L. Todd Rose

Todd Rose is the founder and president of the Center for Individual Opportunity (CIO), and the Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he teaches Educational Neuroscience. His work is focused on both advancing a deeper scientific understanding of individuals, and applying this knowledge in education to address the longstanding challenges of equity, opportunity, and effectiveness.

Todd Rose is the founder and president of the Center for Individual Opportunity (CIO), and the Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he teaches Educational Neuroscience. His work is focused on both advancing a deeper scientific understanding of individuals, and applying this knowledge in education to address the longstanding challenges of equity, opportunity, and effectiveness. Todd has published numerous scientific articles, and is the author of two books: Square Peg (Hachette, 2013) and The End of Average (HarperCollins, 2016). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Pamela Cantor, M.D. leads Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit organization that partners with low-performing public schools to understand and address obstacles to teaching and learning that stem from the stress of poverty. By translating learnings from neuroscience and the study of child development into educational practice, Turnaround helps struggling schools set the stage for academic achievement and healthy student growth. As David Bornstein wrote in The New York Times, “What makes Turnaround’s work so compelling is how it has broken down its long-term vision of school transformation into processes and chunks that are themselves teachable to educators and administrators.”

Dr. Cantor practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 attacks on schoolchildren. She is an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the 2014 Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Impact.

Pamela Cantor, M.D.

Pamela Cantor, M.D. leads Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit organization that partners with low-performing public schools to understand and address obstacles to teaching and learning that stem from the stress of poverty. By translating learnings from neuroscience and the study of child development into educational practice, Turnaround helps struggling schools set the stage for academic achievement and healthy student growth.

Pamela Cantor, M.D. leads Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit organization that partners with low-performing public schools to understand and address obstacles to teaching and learning that stem from the stress of poverty. By translating learnings from neuroscience and the study of child development into educational practice, Turnaround helps struggling schools set the stage for academic achievement and healthy student growth. As David Bornstein wrote in The New York Times, “What makes Turnaround’s work so compelling is how it has broken down its long-term vision of school transformation into processes and chunks that are themselves teachable to educators and administrators.”

Dr. Cantor practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 attacks on schoolchildren. She is an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the 2014 Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Impact.

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Dr. Walker’s research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examines how biological research in genetics, epigenetics, and other biological analytes (hormones, antibodies, and chemicals) can complement social research to promote healthy behavior, fortify learning environments, reduce rates of chronic disease, and optimize health outcomes throughout life. Her work is focused on the biological embedding of chronic stress (the mind-body link) and biological sensitivity to context (individual differences in reactivity to environmental factors) to enhance health and educational outcomes. She is particularly interested in understanding how stress reactivity can be modified via natural solutions such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset coaching, and meditation. Dr. Walker’s research is also focused on understanding prenatal and early childhood origins of health and neurodevelopment, examining how biosocial research on adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress can be harnessed to facilitate early intervention, prevention, resilience, and enhanced quality of life.

Dr. Walker’s doctoral research in the field of Behavioral Genetics at Kings College London examined the relative influence of genes and the environment on educationally relevant behavior. Her work focused primarily on the potential for biological data to inform and optimize individual learning outcomes by examining the respective influence of “nature” and “nurture” on academic achievement, cognitive abilities, and children’s perceptions of their classroom environments.

Dr. Walker has devoted a portion of her academic career to instructing an undergraduate course in Behavioral Genetics at Georgetown University focused on the dynamic interaction between nature and nurture in human development. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Walker was a mutual fund Portfolio Manager in Denver, Colorado. She attended the University of Colorado on a tennis scholarship and played professional tennis in Europe after graduation. Dr. Walker is married with three boys and lives in Washington, D.C.

Sheila Ohlsson Walker, Ph.D.

Dr. Walker’s research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examines how biological research in genetics, epigenetics, and other biological analytes (hormones, antibodies, and chemicals) can complement social research to promote healthy behavior, fortify learning environments, reduce rates of chronic disease, and optimize health outcomes throughout life.

Dr. Walker’s research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examines how biological research in genetics, epigenetics, and other biological analytes (hormones, antibodies, and chemicals) can complement social research to promote healthy behavior, fortify learning environments, reduce rates of chronic disease, and optimize health outcomes throughout life. Her work is focused on the biological embedding of chronic stress (the mind-body link) and biological sensitivity to context (individual differences in reactivity to environmental factors) to enhance health and educational outcomes. She is particularly interested in understanding how stress reactivity can be modified via natural solutions such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset coaching, and meditation. Dr. Walker’s research is also focused on understanding prenatal and early childhood origins of health and neurodevelopment, examining how biosocial research on adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress can be harnessed to facilitate early intervention, prevention, resilience, and enhanced quality of life.

Dr. Walker’s doctoral research in the field of Behavioral Genetics at Kings College London examined the relative influence of genes and the environment on educationally relevant behavior. Her work focused primarily on the potential for biological data to inform and optimize individual learning outcomes by examining the respective influence of “nature” and “nurture” on academic achievement, cognitive abilities, and children’s perceptions of their classroom environments.

Dr. Walker has devoted a portion of her academic career to instructing an undergraduate course in Behavioral Genetics at Georgetown University focused on the dynamic interaction between nature and nurture in human development. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Walker was a mutual fund Portfolio Manager in Denver, Colorado. She attended the University of Colorado on a tennis scholarship and played professional tennis in Europe after graduation. Dr. Walker is married with three boys and lives in Washington, D.C.

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