The Windward Institute: Past, Present and Future
On July 1, 2020, The Windward Institute will reach an important milestone: 6 months since its inception. In that short period of time, The Institute has made significant progress toward achieving its mission to increase childhood literacy rates by disrupting the status quo to save more lives.


Since it was established in 1986, the Windward Teacher Training Institute played a critical role in The Windward School becoming one of the preeminent schools in the country for the remediation of students with language-based learning disabilities. Under Sandy Schwarz’ leadership for the last 20 years, the Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI) experienced unprecedented growth in its professional development offerings, the scope of its work, and the number of constituents it served. Given the significant impact of these increased responsibilities, the Board of Trustees undertook a careful evaluation of the WTTI's external and internal functions, and in April 2018, the Board acted on the recommendation of the Strategic Planning Committee to restructure the WTTI into two separate entities: The Windward Teacher Training Program and The Windward Institute.

After almost two years of careful planning, in January 2020 the School officially launched The Windward Teacher Training Program (WTTP) which recruits, hires, trains, monitors, mentors, and retains Windward teachers, and The Windward Institute (WI) which focuses on and serves as a resource for both Windward teachers and external constituents.

The Windward Institute (WI or The Institute) is a division of The Windward School that provides professional development for educators and parents; facilitates partnerships with universities and researchers to provide a bridge between research and educational practice; and advocates for policies and practices that benefit students with language-based learning disabilities. The Institute maintains ongoing and active outreach in the community and strives to impact the broader field by leveraging the success of The Windward School.
Professional Development for Educators and Parents
The Windward Institute provides professional development based on scientifically validated research in child development, learning theory and pedagogy. Courses, workshops, seminars and lectures address a broad range of topics appropriate for both mainstream and remedial educational settings. This year, course offerings and the Institute’s faculty have been expanded with the addition of Dr. Molly Ness from Fordham University and Dr. Paul Riccomini from the University of Pittsburgh.
Since social distancing and school closures were first instituted in response to the COVID–19 pandemic, The Windward Institute has made all the Institute’s programs available virtually. In addition to its regular offerings that are focused on the latest research in child development, learning theory, and pedagogy, The Institute has used a virtual format to provide resources specifically designed for teaching and parenting during this “stay at home” period. For example, recognizing that early childhood teachers play a critical role in maximizing the potential future success of all students and especially students who are struggling readers, in late 2019, the WI launched an Early Childhood Educators series. Originally intended to be an in-person seminar series, the program was changed to a virtual format.
In addition, the webinars were expanded to support teachers and parents during school closures. These timely webinars included Dr. Molly Ness, “ Making the Most of Your Read Aloud " and “ Creating a Literacy-Rich Home Environment” ; Dr. Mark Bertin, “ Staying Strong and Resilient While Staying Home – a Guide for Parents and Teachers ”; and Dr. Lydia Soifer, “ Red Flags and Warning Signs: Sharing Information with Parents .”
There has been a concerted effort to increase the presence of The Institute on social media that has resulted in extensive postings on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Institute also sponsored the Research Education ADvocacy (READ) Podcast , which highlights the work of educational leaders and prominent researchers. To complement the information shared through social media, a resource section was added to the Institute’s website to provide teachers and parents with evidence-based materials specifically tailored to teaching in virtual classrooms and learning at home. The WI website also contains a growing library of recommended educational and social-emotional research papers, articles, webinars, and more.
Build Partnerships
The WI builds partnerships with external institutions including, but not limited to, Carnegie Mellon University, Manhattanville College, The Child Mind Institute, Yale University, and University of Connecticut. Faculty from these institutions have presented lectures, workshops and seminars for Windward parents and teachers as well as the broader educational community and have been directly involved in other jointly sponsored initiatives. The WI’s relationships with colleges, universities and research institutions allows the Institute to continuously update the its professional development offerings by integrating new findings into its courses, workshops and lectures.
A striking example of these partnerships is The Institute’s participation in the Haskins Laboratories Global Literacy Hub . Haskins is formally affiliated with Yale University and the University of Connecticut. The Hub is an international and interdisciplinary collaborative that brings together an unprecedented partnership of expert researchers, practitioners, educators, and education technology specialists from around the globe.
One component of the Institute’s membership in the Hub is The Windward School/Haskins in-school research study, Predicting Literacy Outcomes at The Windward School . This study uses neurocognitive measures to better understand which instructional strategies work best for students, a critical step in moving toward individualized brain-based instructional programs. As part of this project, the WI established state-of-the-art EEG labs at Windward’s Manhattan and Westchester campuses. Read More

Equally important, a joint Windward/Haskins training and professional development program has been created for Windward teachers, educators, clinicians, researchers, and other stakeholders so that critical research-to-practice goals can be achieved. Teachers from Windward have participated in neuroscience professional development at Yale offered by Haskins scientists, and the Principal Investigators for the joint Windward/Haskins research project, Dr. Ken Pugh and Dr. Nicole Landi, have made presentations to Windward parents and teachers.
Advocate for the Rights of Students with Language-Based Learning Disabilities
Many students with language-based learning disabilities (LBLD) are never identified, and the ones that are identified are frequently not evaluated in a timely manner. The WI advocates for policy changes such as mandated, universal screening for dyslexia upon entrance to school. Advocating efforts have included establishing on-going working relationships with New York State Assembly members Robert Carroll and Jo Anne Simon, City Council member Andrew Cohen and Senior Policy Advisor to the New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Bird. Members of the Windward Institute team have participated in policy forums at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, moderated townhall forums with state and city legislators, and written op-eds advocating for the rights of our students. These advocacy initiatives have been well documented in the second edition of the best-selling book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. and Jonathan Shaywitz, M.D.

Potential Impact on Instruction at The Windward School

The Institute will forge additional alliances with colleges/universities and research organizations. The WI is finalizing plans for a research project with Dr. Lori Holt of Carnegie Mellon University. Relationships with research institutions will provide The Windward School’s teachers with cutting-edge, scientifically validated instructional strategies for the remediation of language-based learning disabilities. Leveraging this knowledge of up-to-date practices and emerging technologies, the WI can help The Windward School to continue to deliver the most effective program for students with language-based learning disabilities.
Potential Impact on the Lives of More Students

It is anticipated that the WI will impact the lives of additional students by expanding into partnerships with public and independent schools that will serve as “lighthouse schools” using The Windward School’s programs and instructional methodologies. Members of the WI team have been advising a group of parents who, as part of the “Imagine Schools” project sponsored by the New York City Department of Education, are working to establish a public school in New York City dedicated to using research-based programs and instructional practices to teach students with dyslexia.
Potential Impact on the Broader Educational Community
The WI will engage in advocacy activities in support of dyslexics including, but not limited to, the passage of legislation at the state and national levels that protects/advances the rights of dyslexics. Advocating on the behalf of students with language-based learning disabilities, The WI will lobby to strengthen teacher certification by requiring knowledge of research-based instructional practices, to mandate screening for dyslexia upon entrance to school and to compel the adoption of scientifically validated curricula.

While there is still much to be done and the challenges that lie ahead are formidable, The Windward Institute’s first 6 months indicate that it is on the right trajectory to accomplish key elements of the Strategic Plan and to fulfill its mission to increase childhood literacy rates by disrupting the status quo to save more lives.
The Windward Institute, a division of The Windward School

WI-Westchester, 40 West Red Oak Lane, White Plains, NY 10604
WI-Manhattan, 212 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128

Mission: To increase childhood literacy rates by disrupting the educational status quo to save more lives
The Windward School does not discriminate in admissions, employment, or administration of programs on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation.