Attention and memory are widely recognized as the core foundations of learning. During this session Drina Madden and Dr. Valerie Nowinski share how to nurture the development and brain growth of children through practical life, sensorimotor, language, world awareness, science, math, grace/courtesy, social development, and executive function, including organizing/planning. This session will focus on outlining the brain structure involved in the development of attention and learning and how to support it in our classrooms. It will culminate in small group discussions and sharing of additional ideas adapted for the Montessori environments to directly develop the necessary skills of attention and memory.
More About Our Presenters:
Drina Madden, M.A., C.A.S.: Early Childhood Development and Education
Drina’s professional pathways have been broad and varied yet have the common theme of dedication to young people - their todays and their futures. Her teaching experiences span through infancy, preschool, elementary, high school and college programs. She has taught children with regular education and special education needs.
For the past 18 years, Drina has specialized in brain-related concerns as a neurodevelopmental specialist. She has taught early childhood brain, physical, cognitive and social development at the college level. She has worked directly with children, their families and schools regarding brain-related problems and the effects on their day-to-day lives. As a neurodevelopmental specialist she administers standardized tests used to assess brain processes regarding learning. These tests are often included within educational and neuropsychological evaluations. She works directly with the children to promote their brain development through attention, memory, language, perception, motor, processing and executive function training. Drina also supports parents as they journey into deeper understanding of the brain design of their children. She also is the “bridge” to schools, promoting an increased understanding of the learning styles and needs of the children.
As her expertise has grown, Drina has presented to various professional groups, nationally and internationally, regarding brain-related topics such as attention, dyslexia, autism and other pervasive disorders and parenting of children with special needs. She has written a number of teacher and parent friendly papers to broaden the understanding of attention disorder, seizure disorders, tics, learning difficulties, pervasive disorders and more. She regularly consults with various professional groups as she bridges an understanding of the brain and its impact on the lives of children and their families.
Dr. Val L. Scaramella-Nowinski: Pediatric Neuropsychology: Founder/Director
Dr. Nowinski is committed to children, their health, learning, and development. She has worked as a clinician and researcher regarding pediatric brain-behavior development for more than 35 years.
During the mid-late 1970’s Dr. Nowinski had the privilege of working at a medical trauma center with a Navy-trained physician and researcher regarding brain development and learning. After several years of master degree work in the center, Dr. Nowinski pursued doctoral studies in Neuropsychology. During Dr. Nowinski’s studies the above mentioned physician introduced her to the well noted, leading neuropsychologist in the country at that time, Ralph Reitan, Ph.D.. Dr. Nowinski had the fortune of studying directly with Dr. Reitan and his team who were developing brain-behavior assessments. Dr. Reitan’s mentor was the noted Dr. Ward Halstead from the University of Chicago (major neuroscience assessments are coined “Halstead-Reitan Assessments”).
Dr. Nowinski’s doctoral research was titled “Systems Analysis: A Neuropsychological Investigation Of The Psychological Structure And Cerebral Organization Of Mental Processes”. Dr. Nowinski has been deeply involved in developing Neurosystems Biology understanding regarding human development and learning, especially in the pediatric population. Since Dr. Nowinski’s doctoral studies, she directed a neuropsychology lab with the physician discussed above, and in 1995 founded the Pediatric Neuropsychology Diagnostic and Treatment Center.
Dr. Nowinski’s practice incorporates an interdisciplinary team of pediatric specialists including neuroscientists, psychologists, educators, speech/language, movement, child development, and learning specialists. She diagnoses and treats children having a variety of brain disorders. Bridging neuroscience with education has always been a primary focus at the center. She has helped to develop educational programs for thousands of children during 35 years as a professional. She has also consulted for multiple school districts, health and allied health specialists, and child development programs. Dr. Nowinski has spoken at multiple local, national, and international conferences regarding pediatric brain behavior development, literacy development, the development of intelligence-IQ and learning, especially regarding early childhood development.
Dr. Nowinski has spoken at multiple local, national, and international conferences, often an invited speaker/keynote. She is the author of numerous child brain development and learning papers and is a member the International Neuropsychology Society, National Academy of Neuropsychology, American Psychological Association- Neuropsychology Division, and the Illinois Psychological Association, among others.
Additionally, Dr. Nowinski is a member of several Professional Advisory Boards including: Hope Foundation for Autism and Epilepsy Research, International Dyslexia Society, Illinois Branch, and Advanced Brain Technologies. Dr. Nowinski is also actively involved in congressional/legislative processes regarding child development and learning, especially early age intervention, health and education policy and reform.