Educators from around the country will gather to hear nationally recognized speakers and discuss the latest research concerning brain-compatible approaches to teaching and learning during the fifth annual "Midwest Brain & Learning Institute" at Hope College, which runs Monday-Thursday, June 20-23.

Demand for the event was so high that the organizers even had to close registration early. Participants will be coming from as nearby as Holland, Zeeland and Allegan and as far away as California and Hawaii. The institute will be held at the college's Haworth Inn and Conference Center.

The institute is designed for those who work with students of all age levels, including pre-school teachers, K-12 educators and college professors. Topics include: Monday, system change in education; Tuesday, neuroscience foundations of learning; Wednesday, creating optimal learners; and, Thursday, the implications of brain research for classroom practice.

The program's format itself has been designed in light of neuroscience research and the guiding principle that learners must be actively involved. The settings have been varied to include whole-group presentations, question-and-answer panels, small-group learning clubs and opportunities for informal discussion.

Dr. Sigurd Zielke, a therapist and clinical consultant, will be making a presentation on Monday in conjunction with the day's focus on system change in education. Returning for a second appearance at the institute, he has been working with schools and teachers to develop successful interventions for children and youth with behavioral concerns. He has been conducting qualitative research to guide his understanding of children's/youth's needs and adults roles.

Dr. Neal M. Alpiner, who is medical director of pediatric rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital in Detroit, will make a presentation on Tuesday concerning the neuroscience foundations of learning. He is a pediatric and adult physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, and his research and practice involves children with learning disabilities and working on strategies to produce optimal brain health and performance.

Also on Tuesday, Cindy Strunk, who is a National Board Certified teacher, will draw on her 18 years of teaching physical development to help classroom teachers understand how movement and curriculum work together. Strunk, who will be making her second appearance at the institute, has been using brain-compatible strategies in her classroom for over 10 years in Sul Ros Elementary School in Waco, Texas.

On Wednesday, Gessner Geyer of the Harvard Graduate School of Education will make a presentation on creating optimal learners. He is co-founder and president of Brainergy Inc., an education and healthcare consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass. For more than a decade he has taught individuals, corporations, healthcare providers and retirement communities, schools and universities how brain function affects human behavior and how human behavior affects the brain.

Dr. Pat Wolfe, author of "Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice," will make a presentation on Thursday. Also speaking at the institute a second time, she is a national and international consultant whose major area of expertise is the application of brain research to educational practice. She is also a former teacher of kindergarten through 12th grade, county office administrator and adjunct university professor.