Dear Bonsall School Community,

As you probably heard earlier this week, the President has announced a brain research initiative to advance neurotechnologies. The magnitude of this initiative will provide a phenomenal shift in how we educate our nation, how we understand learning, and prevent learning disabilities. It won’t happen quickly, but it will have historical impact. Below is a link to an info-graphic with more details.

Over twenty years ago President George H. Bush had declared the 1990’s as the “Decade Of the Brain”. The resulting research radically changed my awareness of how the brain learns, prompting a shift in teaching away from a reliance on behavioral psychology, which is based on stimulus and response, to more reliance on neuroscience and the technologies that take us inside the brain to see how it learns and develops. Under one of the trailblazers of translating this research to the classroom, Dr. Pat Wolfe, my doctoral studies focused on this, and allowed me to become part of a small national network of educators dedicated to improving teaching and learning through applying brain research to classrooms.

Some examples of the success of this application are our Golden Bell Award-winning, “Integrated Learning Environment” (ILE), and our emphasis on “Character Counts”. The ILE uses technology to provide teachers with deeper assessments of what students know and are able to do by linking those assessments to personalizing instruction through learning centers that include engaging video games to reinforce instruction, and putting it all on the web to extend learning time. This has helped Bonsall become a model of improving student learning. Understanding the plasticity of the brain and the environment’s impact on its development drives not only student learning but desired pro-social behavior as well. By emphasizing the Pillars of Character in our “Character Counts’ program, an environment of self control and freedom from stressful negative behavior allows our students to spend more time in areas of the brain that promote learning and less time in the areas that promote stressful fight or flight behaviors.

Great learning environments don’t happen without great home support, great teachers, hardworking employees, and a Governing Board focused on continuous improvement of “Academic Excellence and Support for All Students”. We can all look forward to the great impact the new brain research initiative will have for the Bonsall school community.


Justin Cunningham, Ed.D.