Rotarians Are BrainWise!

Rotarians using BrainWise to enhance the success of their projects.

How Rotarians Use and Apply BrainWise

BrainWise is a proven, evidence based, cross-cultural program that teaches critical thinking and decision-making skills to everyone!

Founded by Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry Ph.D. in 1995, the BrainWise Program, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has been involved with Rotarians and Rotary International since its inception.  In 2006-2007, BrainWise and Dr. Barry were recognized by Rotary International, receiving the North American Innovative Literacy Project Recognition for changing “the Rotary world’s vision regarding the scope of school partnership projects and the standards used to measure success.”

The skills taught by BrainWise, which are called “executive functions,” can be applied to all problem situations, from the third grader caring full-time for younger siblings, to teens who join gangs, and to homeless adults. The lessons are scripted, so anyone can teach it and the program’s common language explains complex brain concepts simply and easily.

Many of the children, youth, and parents with whom Rotarians work have never learned thinking skills. Teaching thinking is similar to teaching reading. The 10 Wise Ways are the alphabet, but learning to put them together and use them requires constant practice because the individual is learning a new skill.

Brain research shows Lizard Brain reactions are the norm. These behaviors include the upset parent who shakes or hits a crying child, the teen who drops out of school because she doesn’t like the way the teacher looks at her, the village women who sabotage new water pumps because they have replaced their traditional gathering place by the river, and the mother who leaves her children alone while she goes to a bar.

A number of program delivery options are available, and the following examples show how Rotarians already are teaching BrainWise.

Most important, please contact us at if you would like to consult personally with us about any special needs or requests you may have regarding how the BrainWise program can work with you.

Rotary Project Designs

Rotarians co-facilitating BrainWise sessions with faculty or community leaders to teach BrainWise. A team of Rotarians and exemplary high school students taught BrainWise integrated into the National Endowment for Financial Education Financial Planning Program to elementary school children.  Here the children are showing pictures they drew of items they wanted and their price and holding treats that they bought with Brain Bucks earned in the class.

Rotarians providing the site with materials, training, and supervision to teach BrainWise and integrate it into classes, activities, or programs.  Here Rotarian Pat Gorman Barry trains Alaskan Natives who will teach BrainWise in their communities.


Rotary hiring a retired prize-winning teacher to work once-a-week with elementary school teachers and show them how to teach and integrate BrainWise into their classrooms. Here the teacher is demonstrating an activity the emphasize how to Stop and Think.

Rotarians as on-site BrainWise teachers. Rotarians can work individually, team with other Rotarians, or team with other volunteers.  Here, Rotarian Rob Andrade, a financial planner with Wachovia, teaches a Money Smart class integrated with BrainWise to parents.

Denver Mile High Rotary received a District Simplified Grant to introduce BrainWise to teens attending a charter school for students who were expelled or dropped out of regular high schools.  Rotary sponsored BrainWise training for the school’s faculty, provided teaching materials, and contracted with a resource teacher to help them integrate the 10 Wise Ways into their classrooms.

Rotarians sponsor Interactors to teach elementary school students.  Here Interactors teach a nutrition class to students, using the BrainWise concepts to help them make better decisions about food.

Rotary sponsors leadership camp.  At Rocky Mountain RYLA Plus camp, BrainWise is infused into the program to help develop leadership skills among attendees.

Rotarians create an after-school program for parents centered on BrainWise.  Here Rotarian Patricia Fiske works with parents after school to help them develop their parenting skills using BrainWise.




Rotoractors champion BrainWise.  Here former BrainWise graduates, now Rotoractors, discuss with Dr. Barry how they became BrainWise champions.




Click here to go to the BrainWise Rotary Order Form.