# About: Leadership

# Debbie Denise Reese, PhD: President, CEO, and Founder

Expert with over 25 years in the field.

Nationally and internationally recognized, awarded, and published for inventing and developing the theories and processes applied in Zone Proxima Mathematics.

Zone Proxima uses Metaphorics technology. Dr. Reese invented and developed Metaphorics through decades of research, much supported by NASA Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Metaphorics is a cross-discipline technology for specification, design, development, and evaluation of instructional environments that cause, measure, and report learning.

Metaphorics technology is applied analogical reasoning theory: goal structures as pragmatic constraints (based upon Dr. Keith Holyoak corpus of work) and deep relational mapping (systematicity and isomorphism) from source to target domain (derived from Dr. Dedre Gentner's corpus). As engineering is applied physics, Metaphorics is applied cognitive science.

Zone Proxima specializes in instruction that prepares learners for future learning. The name Zone Proxima harkens to the Zone of Proximal Development: cognitive preparedness at which a child can solve a problem with assistance.

## The Origins of Zone Proxima Math

During fieldwork from 2015-2017 in Appalachian classrooms, Dr. Reese realized middle school students lacked the math preparation they needed for grade level study of mathematics. Additionally, most lacked sufficient fundamental understandings: The students lacked foundational preparation they should have begun to build in preprimary childhood.

She found the issue is nationwide. Lack of mathematics preparation puts the Nation's children at risk of academic and lifelong failure:

Failing standardized test scores indicate the majority of United States youth lack effective mathematics preparation.

Regulation (stemming from inadequate understanding of the education research and theory) forbids preK programs to provide mathematics instruction.

Children cannot construct meaningful new mathematical knowledge while their foundations are insufficient.

Math strugglers have difficulty teaching math. Math anxiety and deficits in pedagogical and subject matter knowledge by adults hinders young children’s math understanding, attitudes, academic achievement, and lifelong success.

To alleviate this adversity, Dr. Reese applied Metaphorics to preprimary mathematics education. Gattegno-Cuisenaire emerged as a component of the Zone Proxima solution. Why Gattegno-Cuisenaire?

Cuisenaire Rods are a concrete representation of the abstractions of foundational mathematics. They provide a concrete mechanism for the deep representational mapping essential to meaningful learning. The rods are named for their inventor, Emile-Gorges Cuisenaire.

Dr. Caleb Gattegno spent 30 years developing a scope and sequence for early childhood instruction using Cuisenaire Rods. His work provides a set of coherent goal structures that guide and motivate young children to construct viable mappings.

Together, the Cuisenaire and Gattegno components provide a powerful concrete analog for foundational mathematics.

## The Added Benefit

Zone Proxima Math will raise participating adults’ mathematics pedagogical proficiency, enabling them to prepare young children to successfully learn math.