By Michelle Malvey, ED.S.

Understanding why humans respond the way they do has always been fascinating to me. From my early days as a teacher to my roles as a school psychologist, district coordinator, and principal, every step in my 35+ years in education has been a quest for deeper insight into this fundamental question.

In my pursuit, I had the privilege of collaborating with Judy Norman, whose work in unraveling the mysteries of neuroscience profoundly impacted my growth as an educator. Together, we embarked on a journey to implement our understanding of neuroscience systematically within the educational landscape. While this journey was not without its share of mistakes, each misstep became a learning opportunity, empowering us to refine our approach continually.

Our efforts were aimed at creating a learning environment where every individual, be it a student or staff member, received the support they needed when they needed it. We came to understand that true equity lies in recognizing and addressing the unique needs of each person, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment within the educational community.

And the transformation we’ve witnessed in schools and at district levels has been remarkable. Through a combination of structured approaches, strategic tools, and empathetic resources, we witnessed tangible outcomes such as increased attendance, reduced disciplinary incidents, and enhanced academic achievement. These results reaffirmed our belief in the power of understanding the intricate workings of the human brain and body in shaping educational experiences.

As a trainer at the Synergetic Education Institute, my focus lies in cultivating systemic approaches that prioritize the well-being and success of every individual within the educational ecosystem. Whether it’s a three-year-old in a preschool program or an eighty-year-old volunteer, my aim is to create environments where everyone feels valued, heard, seen, and supported.

Why? … My motivation stems from personal experiences, including the challenges faced by my son in navigating the educational system. Witnessing firsthand the impact of systemic barriers on his journey reinforced my commitment to fostering inclusive and supportive environments within schools.

Looking back on my journey, I’m reminded of the importance of distributive leadership and the power of collective action in effecting meaningful change. By prioritizing empathy, intentionality, and a holistic understanding of human needs, we can create educational systems that empower and uplift every individual, regardless of their background or circumstances. 

Because in the end, it’s about embracing a mindset of continual learning and adaptation and paving the way for a future where every person in the school system has the opportunity to thrive and succeed. 

I am forever grateful for the learning path that has led me to be part of the Synergetic Education Institute team! 


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