Julie Dunstan

Changemaker & 
Developmental Psychologist

Susannah Cole

Changemaker & 
Executive Function Coach

Stephanie Guthman

Changemaker & 

Mark Amaral 

Changemaker, Scientist & Educator

The reFLEXions™ Initiative is an alliance of professionals from a wide variety of fields and a diverse range of perspectives. We were formed in response to the changing needs of learners in an uncertain and ever-changing world.


Julie’s Story: Throughout my career, I have asked questions such as: Why are decisions based on how fast children work, their stores of factual knowledge and their compliance, at the expense of social problem-solving, deeper exploration and creativity? I ended up following a path that showed me the entirety of the system in one community: from early intervention through all stages of the public school system to lecturing in education, psychology and programme evaluation. I worked with nonprofits and conducted research with families, inmates and those who struggle with addictions. With all of this experience and application, I kept coming back to the same thoughts. If we love our children and care about their learning, why do we lock them into prisons of self-doubt? We know what it takes to thrive in this world: resilience and flexibility. What will it take for us to give all children the tools they need to feel safe to explore and to be adaptable in the face of adversity?

 Susannah’s Story: After teaching at the college level for several years, the reality as I moved outside the sheltered walls of academia challenged me to confront a system built on a western worldview that sustained privilege based on gender, race and economics. This became even more evident when I taught at the preschool through middle school level. I felt trapped in a system that didn’t provide the time or resources to meet students where they were. I found myself having to teach required objectives that weren’t relevant to the students, setting up incentive programs and giving grades that didn’t reflect what they were capable of. Ultimately, I ended up disheartened by the lack of tools and support to implement what I knew the students needed most: to be heard and seen by a responsive teacher who delivered meaningful content and inspired them to want to bring all of themselves to their learning and make a difference in the world. 

 Our Story: As we began to know each other, we discovered a shared vision for education that made learning accessible to all children. We agreed that there is nothing wrong with those learners who struggle in schools. It is the system that needs to change. The goals for education need to be transformed to ensure that students love learning and are active, resilient and adaptable. So we set about creating a framework for reshaping belief systems and developing alternative assessment methods, research, coaching and educational practices. We envisioned a way to bring all of ourselves to experience curiosity and trial-and-error as more valuable than being speedy ‘producers’ of the one right answer. We call this Flexible Mindsets.