Donna Blevins, chairman and CEO of Greeneville-based Be Smart Kids, a company that provides computer software for early-childhood education, was among the speakers at a major educational conference held recently in Austin, Texas.
Blevins was one of the invited speakers at the Texas Public Education Reform Foundation’s 2007 Statewide Education Summit, which was held on Feb. 16.
The event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin had many prominent speakers.
They included: Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.; Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, the computer manufacturer; Ross Perot, chairman of the board emeritus of Perot Systems Corporation; U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, both of Texas; former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige; and William C. Powers, president of the University of Texas in Austin.
The Statewide Education Summit was described as Texas’ “major forum for discussing education reform and improvement.”
Vidal G. Martinez, chairman of the Texas Public Education Reform Foundation, said, “Our diverse audience today includes (school system) superintendents, principals, administrators, teachers, school board members, teacher associations, policymakers, workforce-development board members, business and chamber leaders, parent-teacher associations, foundations and representatives of higher education; education coalitions, statewide agencies and associations.”
Blevins participated in a discussion titled “Early Childhood Education Teaching Young Children to Soar.”
In her remarks, she said, in part, “In an ever-changing world, we (Americans) are simply not measuring up. I’ve heard many quotes concerning our educational standing with the rest of the world – 20 th, 23 rd, 24 th, 27 th, and even as high as 29 th.”
“Choose your figure. It doesn’t matter. We’re behind.”
“Bottom line, we definitely have a crisis. Our children’s future and the future of this country are in a precarious situation.”
Blevins declared, “If America is to survive as a nation and a world leader, we must do a better job of educating our youth – one child at a time. …”
She continued, “I’m a firm believer that we must prepare rather than repair. This is one of my pet phrases and also one of my pet peeves. We must prepare our children, not constantly repair their learning capabilities and education.
“How do children learn? Scientists tell us how children learn and process information for the rest of their lives depends on how we stimulate their brain in the early years, from birth to age six.”
Blevins continued, “When we stimulate the brain of the young child and the neurons fire often enough, a permanent connection is formed. The more connections, the more work the brain can do. It is called hardwiring the brain.”
Example: Tiger Woods
“It’s the greatest learning potential of a person’s life and the foundation for all future learning, a ‘window of opportunity.’”
She said, “A perfect example is Tiger Woods. Why is he so great? His dad had him on the golf course while he was still in diapers. Educators and policymakers have just begun to recognize this great ‘window of opportunity.’”
Speaking of her company, which she founded in 1998, Blevins told the meeting of prominent Texans, “With lots of help from some very special people, we have in place a proven preschool product that can deliver that is called Be Smart Kids.”
“It’s an interactive, multi-sensory, fun, computerized, one-on-one learning system that takes advantage of this ‘window of opportunity’ and wires the brain for lifelong learning.”
“It’s one-on-one because we understand how very important adult bonding is to a child’s social and emotional development.”
“This process mirrors science and wires the brain for language, vocabulary, math and logic, music, spatial/visual skills, fine motor skills, social and emotional skills, character and a second language, Spanish…”
Concluding, Blevins told those attending the statewide Education Summit in Austin, that, after working for 16 years developing early-childhood education programs, “I am very comfortable in saying, ‘Give us any child, no matter the background, for two consecutive years, 30 minutes a week, and that child will read, add and subtract by the time he/she enters kindergarten.’”
“Even children with learning challenges will dramatically improve in their learning capabilities.”
“Plus, they will develop a thirst for knowledge, strong confidence, self-esteem and a love for learning.”
“We would never think of denying food to a baby or a toddler. So, why would we deny feeding the brain? After all, it will impact the child’s learning for the rest of his/her life,” Blevins said.