How Mental Health, Trauma and Stress Shape Educational Outcomes

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Pamela Cantor
Pamela Cantor, founder of Turnaround for Children, discusses how trauma contributes to the student achievement gap.
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Pamela Cantor knows first-hand how a child’s environment and early experiences can affect their educational outcomes.

She knows this not only because she is a child psychiatrist who has studied how the human brain responds to trauma, but also because she herself was sexually abused as a child. For many years after that experience, she said, she carried “deep shame.”

Cantor, who delivered one of the opening keynotes on Tuesday at the EdSurge Fusion conference in Burlingame, Calif., described how her own childhood trauma led her to medical school. There, she learned “not just the stuff about how our lungs and hearts work, but how we love, how we attach, how we nurture and, most of all, how we heal,” she told an audience of about 500 education leaders and entrepreneurs.

Now the senior science advisor at Turnaround for Children, an organization she founded in 2002 to connect scientific research with childhood development and learning, Cantor emphasized that context . . .

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