All of the focus was on the adolescent brain when specialist educator Nathan Mikaere-Wallis came to town.

More than 300 principals, teachers and teacher aides attended a professional learning and development session at Rutherford Junior High School last week.

Mosston School principal Michelle Watson said that the event was great, with a packed house in the morning and again for the parent session at night.

"Nathan referred to adolescence as being the three years where the brain just shuts down and that's why some teachers and parents can find teenagers challenging," Watson said.


"He talked about ideas of how to deal with that, how we communicate with children and talk them through situations and problem solve, that's the key to it."

Born in Milton, Mikaere-Wallis studied at the University of Otago before starting his career as a primary school teacher.

He then went on to be a lecturer at the University of Canterbury and then worked alongside neuroscience educators at the Brainwave Trust.

"It's really important to have someone like him visit Whanganui, especially as more children are coming through with issues around anxiety and need to build up resilience," Watson said.

"It gives you an awareness of the environments that some children are living in and how we just need to make school that safe, secure place where everything's a constant."

Watson had seen Mikaere-Wallis at a principals' conference in Palmerston North about two years ago and again when he visited Whanganui earlier this year.

She said some principals had donated money from an old lawn-mowing fund which allowed them to pay for the presentation.

"Everyone gave up that day in their school holidays so that they were in a better position to help the kids and I think that speaks volumes.

"I would love to see it as an annual event that we all put in our calendars and just know that every year is going to start with a high-powered professional learning and development day."