SMARTS empowers students by helping them understand their strengths and weaknesses and teaching them critically important executive function strategies.
Strategies: Executive function strategies, sometimes called executive function skills, empower students to manage demanding academic school work, allowing them to focus their effort and show what they know. When students use strategies effectively, they think and problem solve more flexibly.
Motivation: When students learn strategies that allow them to complete their homework and school work, which previously seemed impossible, they are more motivated to work hard.
Awareness: SMARTS teaches students to develop metacognitive awareness, so they understand how they think and learn. With this knowledge, students can select the strategies that work best for them and can apply these strategies to assignments in all their classes.
Resilience: Once students have learned executive function strategies and understand their learning profiles, they develop resilient approaches to learning. When faced with challenges, they apply strategies rather than giving in to frustration.
Talents: Strategies and metacognitive awareness allow students to leverage their talents, applying their strengths in creative ways so that they can overcome challenges and succeed.
Success: With SMARTS, all students gain the tools they need to succeed. When students understand their learning profiles and use the SMARTS strategies to complete their homework and school work, they are more motivated to persist in the face of challenges.
As students advance through the grades, their academic performance is increasingly dependent on their ability to organize and prioritize complex information, shift flexibly, access working memory, and self-monitor, all critically important executive function processes. Many students, especially those with learning and attention difficulties such as ADHD or dyslexia, become increasingly less productive as their school career progresses. This is because they have not learned the strategies needed to access these important executive function processes.
Students who participate in the SMARTS program show increased motivation to learn, stronger effort, and a desire to use executive function strategies in their school work, homework, and studying. Students also develop the self-understanding to know which strategies work best for them as well as why, where, when and how to use these strategies in their academic work. .
The Evolution of SMARTS
ResearchILD’s SMARTS Executive Function and Mentoring program began in 2007 using a community-based peer mentoring model to teach students executive function strategies. The early success of SMARTS laid the foundation for expansion into various middle schools and high schools throughout the Greater Boston area, reaching nearly 1,000 students.
As SMARTS grew, we developed approaches for training teachers to implement and adapt executive function strategies in their classroom as part of their curriculum. The importance of providing all teachers with the training and resources necessary to teach effective executive function strategies, sometimes referred to as executive function skills, across all grades and subject matters has led to the creation of SMARTS Online. After a successful pilot with public, private, and charter schools across the United States, SMARTS Online was launched in September, 2015.
During the 2018-2019 school year, we piloted our innovative SMARTS Elementary curriculum, working with teachers and administrators in public, private and charter schools in both special education and general education settings. Pilot teachers reported that the SMARTS Elementary lessons promoted a strategic mindset, increased effort, and the successful use of strategies across academic areas. SMARTS Elementary became available to the rest of the world in September of 2019.
Since the launch of SMARTS, more than 2,000 schools have joined the SMARTS community. From general education teachers to special education teachers to school psychologies, Speech and Language pathologists, social workers, and more, SMARTS has proven to be a powerful tool to promote executive function strategy use and self-understanding in students K-12 and beyond. Read out Infographic and find out what educators are saying about the power of SMARTS.
Over the course of the pandemic, the SMARTS team has worked with teachers to adapt to the executive function demands of this challenging and uncertain time. Our approach is to incorporate lesson plans, materials, and activities that can transition seamlessly between remote, distance, and hybrid settings. At ResearchILD, we know that academic success is possible only when students possess the executive function strategies necessary to propel real learning. Take a moment to read our 2022 Impact Report detailing our work teaching children, adolescents, and young adults to learn how to learn.
During the 2020-2021 school year, we launched the Executive Function and Equity Fellowship, bringing together educators from across the country to explore how schools are addressing students’ executive function needs through an equity lens. Executive function (EF) processes are critically important for learning and social behavior. Research has shown that executive function mediates SES disparities in school achievement; therefore, interventions targeting executive function could help to close the SES-related achievement gap. For more information on executive function and equity, please review ResearchILD’s white paper here.
As we continue to develop and refine materials for assessment and instruction of executive function strategies, our goal remains the same: to provide teachers with easy to use tools to empower students to learn the executive function strategies they need to succeed throughout their entire academic career and beyond. Welcome to the SMARTS community!
SMARTS Online Curriculum
SMARTS is a powerful tool for executive function strategy instruction, representing a K-12 executive function solution that can meet the needs of any classroom. From SMARTS Elementary to SMARTS Secondary and our Training and Assessment options, our research-based and easy to use tools meet the needs of diverse learners and are applicable across grades and content areas (e.g., math, English, science, and social studies). How can SMARTS help you? Contact us to learn more.
About the SMARTS Team
Interested in joining our team? View current career opportunities
Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D
President and Director
Research Institute for Learning and Development
Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D. is the Director of the Research Institute for Learning and Development (ResearchILD) in Lexington, MA. She is a Fellow and Past-President of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities. She is the Founder and Program Chair of this Annual Learning Differences Conference which she has chaired for 35 years. For 30 years, she was an Associate in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Her 40 years of clinical work, research, publications, and presentations have focused on understanding the complexity of learning and attention differences.
Dr. Meltzer’s extensive publications include articles, chapters and books, most recently, Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice (2018), Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom (2010) and The Power of Peers in the Classroom: Enhancing Learning and Social Skills (2015), co-edited with Karen Harris. Together with her ResearchILD staff, she has developed SMARTS, an evidence-based Executive Function and Peer Mentoring/ Coaching Curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school students (www.smarts-ef.org). She has been an invited speaker at numerous national and international conferences, including the International Association for Cognitive Education conference in South Africa. She has been honored with a number of awards including the Council for Learning Disabilities Outstanding Research Award and the Innovative Program of the Year Award from CHADD (Children with Attention Deficit Disorders).
View Dr. Meltzer’s CV here.
Donna Kincaid, M.Ed.
Assistant Director and Director of Outreach & Training
Donna Kincaid, M. Ed. has been with Research ILD since 2001 and serves as Assistant Director and Director of Outreach and Professional Development. Donna coordinates and facilitates professional development for educators and provides educational therapy and executive function coaching to high school and college students, as well as adults, with learning and attention issues.
Over the course of her career, Donna has worked with all levels of educators from paraprofessionals to superintendents and was the Director of Special Education at a bilingual charter school. Donna co-authored the chapter Remembering: Teaching Students How to Retain and Mentally Manipulate Information in Dr. Lynn Meltzer’s book for teachers titled Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom.
Donna holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, along with Supervisor/Director Certification in the areas of Special Needs, from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Mark Logan, Ph.D.
Mark Logan, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Research Institute for Learning and Development. Mark joined ResearchILD in 2020 and has overall responsibility for strategy, business development and outreach, human resources, operations, fundraising, and the expansion of ResearchILD’s flagship SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum. His priorities also include expansion of one-on-one educational therapy programming for children, adolescents, and young adults.
Previously, Mark served as a public school teacher, principal, and superintendent of a large regional school district for nearly 20 years. Prior to that, he held senior leadership positions in state government and the private sector. Further, Mark has served on numerous state, local, and non-profit boards and committees primarily focused on the health and welfare of children, families, and communities.
Mark earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration at Lesley University where his research centered on cognitive neuroscience and early adolescent development. He earned his Certificate in Advanced Graduate Study in Education Leadership from Harvard University and his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts.
Michael Greschler, M.Ed.
Director, SMARTS Programs
Michael Greschler, M.Ed. has been with ResearchILD since 2011 and serves as the Director of the SMARTS Program. Michael oversees the development and growth of the SMARTS program, leading our curriculum development and instructional design teams and working closely with educators across the US and around the world to develop customized professional development and training programs to support the success of all students.
In addition to his SMARTS work, Michael works as an educational specialist, using executive function strategy instruction to support teenagers and young adults. He is a frequent presenter at workshops, conferences, and webinars and has authored chapters and articles on topics related to executive function.
Michael holds a Master’s Degree in Education in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Janet Peluso, M.B.A.
Director of Finance
Janet Peluso, M.B.A. has been with ResearchILD since 2016 and serves as the Director of Finance. Janet oversees all facets of ResearchILD’s business and financial management operations, including accounting; budgeting and planning; financial analysis and reporting; and contracting.
Over the course of her career, Janet has worked in a variety of roles for a number of nonprofit and health related organizations in the areas of strategic planning, new business development and implementation, project management, financial management and contracting. Prior to joining ResearchILD, Janet served as Vice President of Finance & Contracting for a nationally recognized health care quality improvement organization. Janet began her career as a public accountant at a top accounting firm serving clients in multiple industries, including manufacturing, insurance, nonprofits, and the arts.
Janet holds a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Management from the University of Connecticut.
Kim Davis, M.Ed.
Instructional Design Lead
Kim Davis, M. Ed. is ResearchILD’s Instructional Design Lead. Kim is responsible for developing, implementing and managing training curriculum and resources for the SMARTS and [email protected] eLearning programs, including developing the content strategy, course design and development of eLearning modules. Kim monitors all programs to ensure integration of accessibility of educational materials across diverse student populations
Kim holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Fitchburg State College with certifications in Special Education, Elementary Education, and Principal. She has been a member of the ResearchILD staff since 2015 and has held previous roles positions in teaching, school leadership and test development.
Jamie Cutler, M.S.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Jamie Cutler, M.S. is ResearchILD’s Director of Marketing and Communication. Jamie is responsible for the organization’s marketing activities including the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum, the Executive Function Conference, professional development workshops, and other educator, parent, and student-focused programs. She also manages a portfolio of SMARTS accounts and is passionate about exploring the intersection between marketing and sales with a commitment to offering an exemplary user experience.
Jamie holds a B.S. from Cornell University and a M.S. degree from Boston University, College of Communication. She has been a member of the ResearchILD staff since 2010 and has held previous positions in development and event-planning.
Elizabeth Ross, M.A.
SMARTS Media Manager
Elizabeth Ross, M.A. is a SMARTS Associate and Media Manager and has been with ResearchILD since 2010. She has had the privilege of teaching the SMARTS curriculum in multiple schools and in helping to transition SMARTS to an online format. Currently, she specializes in online training, professional development, video production, sales, social media management, and event planning.
Elizabeth holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Emerson College in Boston.
Shelly Levy, M.Ed., M.S.
Director of SMARTS Training and Educational Specialist
Shelly Levy, M.Ed., M.S. is Director of SMARTS Training and an Educational Specialist and has been with the organization since 2017. As Director of SMARTS Training, Shelly creates and leads professional development training and webinars on executive function strategy instruction and the implementation of the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum. She also provides coaching to general education and special education teachers across the country.
As an Educational Specialist, Shelly works with students of all ages, elementary age through college, who struggle with learning, attention, and executive function challenges and provides specialized instruction and academic support in the areas of reading, writing, test preparation, and executive function skills.
Shelly has been in the field of Special Education for over 30 years with the majority of her career as a Director of Support Services. She holds a M.Ed. in Special Education from David Yellin College of Education, Jerusalem and a M.S. in Management from Lesley University.
Lorissa Gomez, M.B.A.
SMARTS Operations Coordinator
Lorissa Gomez, M.B.A. is the SMARTS Operations Coordinator and has been with ResearchILD since 2018. Lorissa manages the administrative and operational tasks of the sales and account management processes for new, existing, and potential SMARTS customers. She works with the ResearchILD team to develop and monitor the systems required for ongoing success and works with existing and potential partners to cultivate and maintain relationships with administrators and SMARTS users.
Previously, Lorissa worked in sales in New York City and as an account manager for a promotional products supplier in Princeton, NJ. She also served as co-president of a small non-profit sending footwear to Catholic orphanages in South Africa. Recently, Lorissa served for four years as the Vice-President of Membership at her local elementary school.
Lorissa received her M.B.A. in Marketing from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, and earned her B.B.A. in Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed.
SMARTS Program Associate and Educational Specialist
Caitlin Vanderberg, Ed.M., is a SMARTS Associate and an Educational Specialist and has been with the organization since 2020. Caitlin leads the development and piloting of the MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit and supports various SMARTS curriculum projects. As an Educational Specialist, Caitlin works with elementary and middle school students with learning, attention, and executive function challenges and provides specialized instruction and academic support in areas such as writing and executive function strategy development.
Prior to joining ResearchILD, Caitlin worked as an assistant elementary school teacher and in a one-on-one teaching setting. She has also worked with many arts education programs, including museum education and hands-on art making.
Caitlin holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Lindsay Pietro, B.S.
SMARTS Educational Sales Specialist
Lindsay Pietro, B.S. is ResearchILD’s Educational Sales Specialist for the SMARTS curriculum. Lindsay is responsible for all aspects of the sales cycle within the organization, including training, customer service, and account management. She works closely with the program development and marketing teams on the SMARTS program, as well as professional development and related special events.
Lindsay holds a B.S. in Business Marketing from Arizona State University. She has been a member of the ResearchILD staff since 2021 and previously worked in development and sales in the K-12 educational sector.
Taylor McKenna, M.A., M.Ed.
Educational Specialist and SMARTS Associate
Taylor McKenna, M.A., M.Ed. has been with ResearchILD since 2021 and serves as a SMARTS Associate and Educational Specialist. Her work includes developing SMARTS executive function curricula and tools, designing ResearchILD’s EF and Equity Fellowship, and working with students on fostering lifelong EF skills and strategies.
Prior to joining ResearchILD, Taylor was an elementary and later high school special education teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools system and has extensive experience working one-on-one and in small groups with students experiencing EF difficulties. Taylor is also passionate about youth mental health and is committed to partnering with students and families to thoughtfully address the emotional and behavioral needs that often arise alongside students’ EF challenges.
Taylor holds a Master of Education degree in Human Development and Education from Harvard University, a Master of Arts degree and teaching certification in Special Education from Alverno College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Dartmouth College.
Jessica Chiusolo, M.Ed.
SMARTS Instructional Designer and Professional Development Trainer
Jessica Chiusolo, M.Ed. has been with ResearchILD since 2022 and works as a SMARTS Instructional Designer and Professional Development Trainer. Jessica works on SMARTS course design, development, and implementation. She also delivers SMARTS training, consultations, and coaching services for a variety of audiences.
Jessica has been a classroom educator for over 20 years in both public and private schools while serving on various curriculum and design committees. Her work in Community Engagement and Instructional Design has inspired her to create content that engages all learners. Jessica has also led Professional Development Trainings in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Social Emotional Learning, and STEM initiatives.
Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Southern Connecticut State University, along with a certification in Instructional Design and her Professional Educator License. She also had the opportunity to study education abroad in Bath, England at the University of Bath.
Meet our trainers!
We have a growing team of experienced and dedicated educators leading SMARTS professional development, coaching teachers, and consulting with schools.
Students Talk About SMARTS
The best thing I learned in SMARTS is that I am smarter than I thought!
–9th grade student
Using a strategy gives you a different understanding of how to tackle a challenge. I feel like I can come up with my own way of doing things after learning how from SMARTS.
–11th grade student
I learned some of my weaknesses and one of them was that sometimes I don’t plan ahead for things; I feel like the SMARTS program taught me how to break it apart into pieces so I can do it one at a time and I don’t have to do it all at the last minute.
–5th grade student
Teachers Talk About SMARTS
Executive function strategies are so important for kids, but where do they learn the strategies they need? Did you learn how to study? Did you learn how to organize? Schools say they are teaching these skills, but they really aren’t.
–Head of School, Laurel School, San Francisco, CA.
Right now schools are designed around student learning outcomes such as grades and test scores, but we should really be teaching students the process of learning, the how and the why. Executive function strategies make the critical difference in successful learning. They are essential.
–School Psychologist, The Chickering School, Dover, MA
Executive function strategies can benefit every child and every teacher. We felt we had to bring SMARTS to all our students, not just limit it to a special needs population.
–Head of School, K-8, Easton, CT
SMARTS is improving my teaching. I can tell that when I give the kids a clear and well-structured idea of what I’m looking for, they are going to perform better. Because of SMARTS curriculum, I’m thinking twice about what I need to put on assignments to make things more transparent to them.
– 9th grade English Teacher, Reston, VA
The SMARTS evaluation tools helped us to identify kids who were especially in need of executive function supports. Some of these kids were struggling even though the teachers didn’t know it. SMARTS helped us to identify and support them.
– Head of School, K-8, Easton, CT
SMARTS is good because it breaks it down tasks, and each lesson in each unit gives students something to realize that they didn’t know about themselves before. I love it! This is the best program I’ve ever used.
—5th and 6th grade teacher, Easton Country Day, CT
I would absolutely recommend SMARTS to other teachers. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 10. I’ll absolutely be using SMARTS next year.
—7th and 8th grade teacher, Easton Country Day, Easton, CT
SMARTS in the Media
Cutler, Jamie. The Institutes for Learning and Development Name Mark F. Logan, Ph.D. Incoming Executive Director. Press Release. December, 2020.
James Daley, The Best Methods for Teaching Executive Function in the Classroom. Learning Works for Kids. August, 2020.
Dr. Kathie Foster, From the Robbinsville Schools: Cultivating independence in children.
Community News. August, 2019.
Jamie Cutler, Research Institute for Learning and Development Launches SMARTS for Elementary School.
Press Release. August, 2019
Shamrock Elementary Students Support the Lowell Transitional Living Center in Public Service Project. Wicked Local. April, 2019.
Dr. Mark Katz, Promising Practices. Attention Magazine. August, 2018.