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Blog Jul 12, 2023

Turnaround for Children is now the Center for Whole-Child Education at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Dear Friends,

We have incredible news to share.

Last Fall, to honor our 20th anniversary, Turnaround for Children shared new mission and vision statements, which we arrived at through a yearlong, all-staff effort to clarify and rekindle our shared purpose: creating equitable learning environments — everywhere kids learn — by applying principles from the science of learning and development. We also shared that we knew we would not realize this vision alone. The purpose that drove our creation in 2002 by our visionary founder, Pamela Cantor, M.D., has only become more important over time. The field is going to need something more than what we could ever do as a standalone 501c3 to have the impact on our youth-serving systems that we know is required. For the past year, we have been exploring possibilities for transformative collaboration with an institution that could position our work for greater impact and scale.

Today, we are excited to announce to friends and partners that Turnaround for Children is now the Center for Whole-Child Education, a part of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. 

For two decades, Turnaround and its partners have helped lead the way in understanding both how kids grow and learn, in context, and how to bring about the practices, conditions, and policies that set each student up to thrive. Whole-child education applies the science of learning and development to create educational experiences that integrate social, emotional, academic, and cognitive development. It is not a prescriptive model or one-size-fits-all approach; it is about prioritizing the needs of students, personalizing their learning experiences, and ensuring that they have the tools and support to succeed. Whole-child education requires a combination of positive relationships; safe and supportive environments; rich learning experiences; development of the skills, habits, and mindsets that are critical to success; and integrated support systems. But most of all, it is a recognition that we can’t choose to work on any one of these facets in isolation — we have to attend to all of them, together — because all of these things matter if we care about healthy development and thriving. In doing so, we create a more holistic education system that leverages each student’s unique strengths, increasing opportunity and academic achievement.

Joining forces with ASU positions Turnaround to continue its mission and drive toward our long-term vision, with opportunities for greater impact, scalability, and sustainability than ever before. Like Turnaround, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is committed to developing educational practices and building learning environments that are learner-centered: responsive to the personal, social, and cultural experiences of learners. ASU is consistently recognized as one of the most innovative institutions of higher education. Under the leadership of Dean Carole Basile and her incredible team, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has shown an unwavering commitment to applying the spirit of innovation to improving education. It is consistently among the highest ranked colleges of education in the country and is currently ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report in education research expenditures. MLFTC enrolls over 8,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. It partners with hundreds of schools across the United States and organizations around the world. It is one of only a few colleges of education that excels at both educator preparation and world-class research.

The Center for Whole-Child Education will join an innovation ecosystem at MLFTC that includes the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Next Education Workforce Initiative. Together, we will be a powerful force for designing scalable solutions that can make education practice and education systems more effective, equitable, and sustainable.

“The establishment of the Center for Whole-Child Education is an enormously exciting opportunity to scale innovations in education for K-12 and beyond grounded in the science of learning and development. This will mean many more schools designed and many more teachers well prepared to leverage the latest knowledge about how to see and unleash the potential in each and every person. I am excited to get to work with Carole Basile and Brigid Ahern to bring the Center and its promise to life.”


Together, we can transform the learning experience for each and every young person. I can think of no more significant way in which to honor the 20th anniversary of Turnaround for Children than by channeling this moment into a jumping off point for a new, stronger, more focused approach to achieving what this organization was founded to do. As we always have, we will reinforce the knowledge that Dr. Cantor crystallizes and inspires us all with, preparing educators to change the lives of young people by distilling research into tools and resources that can be applied in learning settings. By working together, we can finally create an education system that puts students at the center.

Today, we know there can be no false choices between academics and well-being. I joined Turnaround because this organization was asking tough questions about why the education system was designed as it was and how it could be changed. We continue to ask and answer these questions, even when it is tough to do so, and we adapt. That is what we are doing today. I want to thank my colleagues at Turnaround, our incredible board, and our many partners around the world. And that includes you. I am so proud of what we have accomplished together over the last two decades. Our purpose now is to move forward, not backward, so all young people thrive.

Brigid Ahern
Executive Director

Center for Whole-Child Education
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University