Home Escambia County ‘Why’ Video Highlights SCI’s Building Brains Program

‘Why’ Video Highlights SCI’s Building Brains Program

Saying that your goal is to give every child the opportunity to be the best they can be, immediately earns a lot of head nods and support. But, digging a little deeper to really show the “why” behind Studer Community Institute’s Building Brains Program inspires a high level of buy-in.


That’s the aim of SCI Building Brains ‘WHY’ video.

In under four minutes, hearing from people who created, inspired, implement, and benefit, tells the tale of why it’s so important.

Naturally, it starts with the man who envisioned the program, SCI Founder Quint Studer, sharing his why, “I just think every child deserves every chance to be as successful as they can be. So, how do we optimize somebody’s human potential?”

Dr. Dana Suskind explains science behind SCI’s Building Brains Program

That’s where the science comes in from Dr. Dana Suskind, the brilliant surgeon and researcher at the University Of Chicago who founded the Thirty Million Words Center. It was Suskind who inspired and collaborated on SCI’s programs starting with her first visit to Pensacola in 2016. After a brief explanation of the brain science (85% of the brain is developed in the first three years of life, with nurturing talk and interaction as the key factors) Suskind exclaims, “It is and has always been about the power of parents.”

That sparked and guided the development of SCI’s programs to inform, equip, and support parents on the pivotal importance of early brain development.

New parents watch SCI Build A Brain video in hospital

Hospitals play a critical role in reaching the parents right from the start. “We do the hearing test while they’re in the hospital. We teach breastfeeding, we show moms how to bathe their baby when in the hospital,“ says Studer, “Just like I want their child to be fed well, to be bathed well, I want them to be able to learn.”

Through a partnership with all Pensacola area hospitals, new parents are shown the Build A Brain video (4-5 minutes on why early brain development is important and what they can do about it), given a Brain Bag (filled with resources, including the Baby Steps early brain development milestone guide), and provided the opportunity to sign up for Basics Insights text messaging service (free program that sends parents texts with science based tips, activities and reminders for the first three years of life).

Baptist Health Care Mother-Baby nurse Catherine Koveleski is a model advocate for SCI’s Building Brains Program.

Baptist Health Care Mother-Baby Nurse Catherine Koveleski has been implementing the program since 2019. She’s become so invested and a model for how to make the connection with parents. “It’s putting their child behind when they’re not talking to their baby, looking them in the eye,” Koveleski shares in the video, “and once you tell them, we all love our children, we see that light go off, that they want to do the right thing and they want to build their baby’s brain and they want to be a good parent.”

Of course, the biggest payoff of the work is the impact on parents, and that is a key element of the video. Moms and dads expressing how the information affected them, and the lives of their children, shows what “Building Brains” is all about. It would be tough to not be sold after hearing Denisha Rogers say “He (her son) got a little more of the energy and the love, because I was learning. It’s not just school that teaches them, they learn at home as well.”, or Kristen Pesce share, “I felt so important and it made it more important. We have this kid here that is going to grow and we get to develop him and it was instead of wondering what kind of tools we needed, it was here’s the tools that we needed.”

The results are starting to show with kindergarten readiness rates in Escambia County (a key metric of success for SCI’s Building Brains program) rising 8% from 2021-2023 (42%-50%). That hammers home the importance of Studer’s declaration towards the end of the video, “Every day we miss is a day that we take away from that child’s potential to have success.”

It’s Koveleski who gets the last word and sums up “why” we all should be invested, “Just something so simple from the very beginning, right after the baby’s born, is hopefully changing the community over time.”

Learn more and find out how you can get involved at www.studeri.org/EarlyLearningCity

Steve Nissim is Chief Storyteller for Studer Community Institute, a non-profit 501c(3) organization in the Pensacola, Florida area whose mission is improving the quality of life for all people in the diverse communities we serve. Learn more at www.studeri.org