From the Dean – July 2017

Chronic illnesses do not affect only the body. They can also affect the brain.

Around that idea, Peabody scholar Bruce Compas, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Psychology and Human Development, has been building a trans-institutional body of research that directly benefits children who suffer from chronic pediatric conditions, from cancer to congenital heart disease.

Survival rates have improved. But these positive outcomes also pose new challenges for children and families because of the way illness affects learning and cognition. The condition, the treatments and the stress associated with their medical journey can lead to serious neurocognitive deficits.

In response, Compas and a team of researchers at the Vanderbilt Stress and Coping Research Lab have been working directly with medical practitioners, pediatric patients and their families to develop interventions that can ameliorate the cognitive effects of these conditions and enable children to keep learning. It is important work, and we are pleased to showcase it in this issue of Peabody Reflector.

“When altruism, empathy and talent combine, as they do so often at Peabody, great things happen.”

—Camilla P. Benbow

We also share the good news that in the second year of our partnership with the State of Tennessee, participants in the Governor’s Academy for School Leadership are already being appointed to top administrative roles. The fellows are high-achieving assistant principals who take part in a rich yearlong collaboration in which they learn from top Peabody faculty and peer mentors. We are proud to contribute to the state’s efforts to elevate school leadership and improve outcomes for Tennessee students.

As you can see, a deep concern for the well-being of all children and their learning remains a powerful thread connecting the work done at Peabody. As always, the alumni profiles included here suggest the ways that our graduates are using what they have learned to make lives better.

When altruism, empathy and talent combine, as they do so often at Peabody, great things happen.

Camilla Persson Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development