We begin this year with a sense of profound thanks for all of you who have brought the Gurian Institute into your schools, homes, and communities for twenty years. We have trained tens of thousands of professionals and reached more than one million parents and community members. Our energy and passion for this work is fed by your energy and passion. You drive us, and I want to begin 2018 by acknowledging you who make this happen!
GI began twenty years ago. It began with a conversation between the Chair of the Missouri Center for Safe Schools, Dr. Patricia Henley, and her colleagues in six school districts. These leaders sat in a room in the Education Department of the University of Missouri-Kansas City to discuss issues they had identified in their student populations—on the surface, the issues were about school safety, but then they deepened into gender and achievement gaps in grades, test scores, student behavior, and parent involvement.
When I got a call from Dr. Henley a few days later, she told me these leaders had read The Wonder of Boys. They wanted the science-based approach, Dr. Henley told me. “We believe in scientifically driven solutions to educational reform issues,” she said. “We want to start a Pilot study using the Gurian theory and strategies. Will you help us?” Of course, I would! I was deeply honored.
In initial meetings with her and her team, I felt a sense of a mini-revolution as we decided to work in tandem with the three parts of the whole child’s development, nature, nurture, and culture. This mini-revolution continued over the next two years. We trained educators and leaders, counselors, parents, and community members in the learning minds of boys and girls. The deep dive led to a research-driven academic approach to strategies and tool-development that could be replicated beyond these six districts.
Very importantly, the innovative system was data-proven. As Boys and Girls Learn Differently reported at the end of the pilot, test scores and grades improved for both boys and girls, discipline referrals decreased, teacher effectiveness and confidence increased, school counselors better understood how to work with boys, and both curricular learning and extra-curricular activities, such as in girls’ math/science (STEM) and boys’ reading and literacy improved markedly.
The people in those school districts and at UMKC made all of this happen. While I provided a research- and science-based theory and template, the teachers, administrators, coaches, and parents in those districts put it all to work. What a gift they gave! Twenty years later, their innovative spirit lives on in the more than 100 Gurian Certified Trainers throughout our country and, indeed, the globe. They and the schools and communities they serve are constantly innovating science-based theory and practice, always adapting and evolving, and discovering new educational needs to fill.
As 2018 begins, I hope you will celebrate your work in this field. As you do, please reach out to us for assistance and programs. Let’s work and consult together, let’s inspire communities together. Our GI trainers, our executive team, and I are available to help with speaking, pilots, professional development, school visits, conferences, trainer certification, one-year and Model School programs, and much more.
Enjoy our new look and website, www.gurianinstitute.com. Enjoy the passion!
Thank you all. Onward and together we go into 2018!