Life at MIND: Leading with Our Hearts at MINDShare 2019

Think back to a much-anticipated moment in your life and the excitement that led up to it. The build-up of emotions hoping it’s all you envisioned, and the preparation in your heart for the joy and memories to come.

This is what I experienced leading up to my first MINDShare. MINDShare is the annual event hosted by MIND Research Institute where colleagues (MINDers) from all across the country gather for a week of work and play. I recently joined MIND after five successful years of implementing ST Math in my previous district, and I was intent on soaking up this experience.

Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., MIND's Cofounder and Chief Research & Development Officer, kicking off MINDShare 2019

There was a lot to look forward to. Teammates shared their favorite moments from past MINDShare events, and excitement built knowing we would have our first glimpse at the new version of ST Math. I was excited to create memories with colleagues, say hello to those I don’t see on a regular basis, and share knowledge.

I heard from others that MINDShare was a great place to refocus, refresh, and remind yourself why we do what we do.

It turns out, they were right.

JiJi and Education Success Manager Christina Pipkin

Play to Learn Math. Learn to Love Math.

Let the learning begin! From general sessions to unique breakouts that targeted new learning, MINDShare had options for everyone.


We experienced the new ST Math, something we’d been hard at work on for years! And if previewing powerful new features and updated puzzles wasn't enough, there was also a JiJi sighting!

With streamlined navigation for students, enhanced feedback animations, and a new objective hub for teachersalong with new assignment featuresthe new ST Math actively supports students' learning and optimizes teachers’ experiences.


One thing that hasn’t changed is the twenty years of neuroscience and education research that backs ST Math and translates to powerful learning experiences that bring proven results. As Dean Hoffman, Education Success Manager stated during MINDShare, “Our results are not ‘happy accidents.’ They are intentional outcomes resulting from decades of planning, testing, and most importantly, learning from mistakes.”

Master of Ceremonies, Karin Wu, with presenters Jim Kirchner and Dorene Uhrich

Team Building

Many research studies show that when we laugh, it enhances attention, motivation, perception, memory, and learning, so it was good that our amazing event planners included time for us to play and laugh between learning so many new things.

We even had time to shop at Paco Bazaar! Paco Bazaar was started by Jo Zafra and our MIND artists as a way to use their creativity to help raise money and give back to our community. Colleagues created fun JiJi-themed original artwork and items that staff purchased. At our last Paco Bazaar, we were able to raise over $1,000 to support an ST Math classroom in need.

Community Partnerships Director Maria Cervantes, at the Paco Bazaar

Tuesday night, the Irvine colleagues greeted their remote peers with a reception to show off our new office location. We had a great time enjoying dinner, visiting with old and new friends, and warming up by the outdoor fire pits. Our CEO Brett Woudenberg’s dog, Maddie, even made an appearance! Each department had the opportunity to gather during the week without distractions to just have fun with activities like game nights, painting classes, and a giant game of good ol' Family Feud.

Linda Laose, Yvonne Noneman, Jo Garrett, Renzel Banez, and I
during our fierce gingerbread competition

Because MINDShare fell in December this year, all colleagues were able to participate in the annual holiday party! If your idea of team building includes activities where you can learn a new skill, increase your creativity, and improve productivity, you should have seen our gingerbread structure competition! It included bartering for supplies and a whole lot of frosting.

While my team did not win best gingerbread house, we still built one very inviting dinosaur retirement home and spa. Hey! We did the best we could with the materials we were given!

A top contender to the gingerbread challenge: a gingerbread train!

Beyond the fun dinners, creative gingerbread building, ugly holiday sweaters, sing-alongs, and karaokeall of this play and laughter opened up communication across departments, built relationships, and encouraged teammates to work cooperatively.

Ugly Holiday Sweater Champions: Debra Balint, Lynn Nordstrom, and ShaKeitha Green

In Tune with My Why

Dr. Betty Uribe, one of MIND's board members, was a MINDShare guest speaker. She had thirty minutes to make an impact on our organization, but she only needed sixty seconds! She showed us the importance of showing up for others, building trust by being yourself, and believing in your core valuesall within one minute!

Dr. Uribe asked the audience, “Why are you here?” Our short time with Dr. Uribe encouraged, inspired, and reminded us that we must stay in tune with our why.

Board member and guest speaker, Dr. Betty Uribe

Something I especially enjoyed at MINDShare was hearing MINDers recognize great work done by their colleagues. These individuals were celebrated for showing evidence of our organization’s core values: people, problem solving, and learning.

While our organization recognizes colleagues monthly with Core Value Awards that we share on LinkedIn, during MINDShare, we celebrated many Core Value Award winners each day! Employees were encouraged to send in peer nominations and the recognition and respect that resulted was incredible.

Engagement team members: Malinee Chum, Tatiana Hernandez, Calli Wright, and Edith Esparza

Leading With our Hearts

There are two important things that I took away from MINDShare:

  1. I work with a brilliant group of dedicated, mission-driven professionals who share a common mindset with me—a drive to do what is best for children.
  2. When you have the privilege of interacting with a MIND partner, you are sure to find people you can trust, people that care for one another, and people who effortlessly show you their purpose.

I’m proud to say that I’m part of that purpose.

Sandra Consilio

About the Author

Sandra Consilio is the Education Success Director for Texas at MIND Research Institute. She holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Educational Leadership and Administration.


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