From the Desk of Dr. Landry

Dear Friends,

Dr. LandryOur mission at the Children's Learning Institute is to create a quality learning environment for all children, ensuring that every child is equipped to learn and able to excel. But we cannot do this alone. Even the best of programs or the most promising areas of research mean nothing, in light of our mission, if we cannot apply them in tangible ways to impact the lives of children and their families. In our quest to provide a better learning experience for all children, we are often asked about our funding and how we have been able to accomplish so much good for so many children and their families. continue reading

Discover CLI

CLI is helping to change the face of education in Texas as an advisor for the TEA sponsored Texas Literacy Initiative

Texas Literacy InitiativeThe goal may seem obvious: to ensure that every Texas child is strategically prepared for the literacy demands of college and/or career by high school graduation. After all, hasn't the goal of education always been to prepare students to be successful in their future endeavors? But sadly, students around the country and right here in Texas are often lacking the fundamental literacy skills that are required in college and the workplace; skills like reading, spelling, grammar and speech are vital for success not only in educational pursuits but in daily life. continue reading

Newsmaker Spotlight

Dr. Jenifer Juranek discusses her work in neuroimaging and what it can teach us about child development

Gray MatterSitting at a computer, comparing colorful images of a child's brain, Jenifer Juranek, Ph.D., talks excitedly about gray matter, white matter, structural integrity, pruning, and myelination, the process by which neurons are coated making them more efficient and effective in carrying messages through the brain. To the untrained eye, these images are captivating pictures of the most complex organ in the body; to Dr. Juranek they show the evolution of a developing brain and possibly hold the key to better understanding how the brain and its functioning are affected by developmental disabilities.

She is currently applying her expertise in neuroimaging to several research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on issues ranging from reading disabilities to spina bifida, traumatic brain injury and childhood ADHD. While these issues may differ greatly, the focus remains constant: to better understand the role the brain plays in development with the goal of advancing our knowledge and treatment of these issues.

The Learning Leader recently sat down with Dr. Juranek to discuss her work in neuroimaging and some of the real-world implications of her research. continue reading

Making a Difference

A collaboration between the Children's Learning Institute and St. Francis Episcopal Day School helped students "Discover a Summer of Possibilities"

Camps at St. FrancisThe summer months are a time of laughter and smiles as the structure and discipline of the school year give way to the excitement of summer camps, outdoor activities, later bedtimes and fun adventures. But for the 80 children who took part in the Reading and Math Skills Camps at St. Francis Episcopal Day School, provided by the Dan L. Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic Summer Tutoring Program at the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at UTHealth, this summer was also a time for adventures in learning. continue reading


  • The Houston Chronicle recently ran an opinion piece from Bill Hammond, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, that discussed the importance of high quality early childhood education to the future prosperity of our state, featuring our Texas School Ready! project. This was picked up by newspapers across the state including the Austin Statesman, San Antonio Express News, Amarillo Globe-News, Odessa American and San Marcos Record.
  • The Houston Chronicle also wrote an editorial on the importance of investing in quality pre-K programs like Texas School Ready!
  • During their news broadcasts, Telemundo Houston and Multimedios Houston featured stories on our English Language Learners project in Houston Independent School District pre-K classrooms (video clips are in Spanish).
  • A new research project at the Children's Learning Institute, led by neurodevelopment expert Dr. Linda Ewing-Cobbs, will study the influence of traumatic brain injuries on children's stress response systems and the impact on future health.
  • The 2012 Texas School Ready! Early Childhood Summer Institute brought together nearly 1,000 educators, administrators, providers and advocates to discuss pressing issues in early childhood education. Read a recap of this event here.
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This month, The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) bids farewell to a longtime faculty member. Paul Swank, Ph.D., is retiring as Director of Research after 11 years at CLI and 25 years working with CLI Director Dr. Susan Landry.

Dr SwankWhat has been his favorite part of working here? “You’re doing something where you feel like you’re contributing to people’s welfare. When you go home at the end of the day, you can be proud of the work that you did.”

Dr. Swank is looking forward to traveling in his retirement, though he will continue to assist with select CLI projects. We would like to thank Dr. Swank for his many significant contributions to the mission and work of the Children’s Learning Institute.

LaShonda BrownLaShonda Brown, Director of the Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office (housed at the Children’s Learning Institute) has recently been appointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve as the Chair of the Texas Early Learning Council (TELC). In a letter to TELC community, Brown said, “I look forward to working with you as the Council enters the final year of our three-year grant.”


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Late Summer 2012
Issue 9