Education Advisory Board

Helping Primrose Continue to be The Leader in Educational Child Care®

The Education Advisory Board helps further enhance the high-quality early childhood education that Primrose Schools delivers nationwide, while also strengthening the relationship between Primrose and the communities it serves. Education Advisory Board members specifically focus on issues that affect Primrose students and families, their communities, national initiatives, and Primrose Schools' Balanced Learning ®curriculum.

The board provides strategic counsel for Primrose Schools by helping to set priorities, making recommendations for the continuous improvement of education and training programs, and serving as a sounding board for initiatives and curriculum enhancements.

Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board Members

Robert Needlman, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Dr. Robert Needlman is a nationally acclaimed pediatrician, author of Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics, and co-author of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. He is also an associate professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he specializes in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics.

In 1989, he co-founded the first pediatric-based literacy support program, Reach Out and Read, which is now a national center with more than four thousand six hundred sites in fifty states, Italy, Spain, Israel, and the Philippines. He is a fellow of ZERO TO THREE/ National Center for Clinical Infant Programs, a member of the Bright Futures National Health Initiative, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University, in addition to the Steering Committee of the Ohio READ Alliance. He also is also contributor to numerous pediatric textbooks and journals, a widely featured speaker on early learning and literacy, and a columnist for Scholastic's Parent & Child® magazine. 

Dr. Needlman graduated from Yale University’s School of Medicine and completed his Pediatric residency and fellowship in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University. Dr. Needlman is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is board certified in Pediatrics.

Dr. Stephen Sanders

Steve Sanders is a Professor and Director of the School of Physical Education, Wellness, and Sports Studies at the University of South Florida. The School has academic units in Physical Education Teacher Education, Exercise Science, and Athletic Training.

Steve is closely involved with teacher preparation programs working to prepare teachers to assist children in becoming physically active for a lifetime. He has taught and promoted the concept of being physically active for life throughout his career while working with all age levels from university students to infant/parent and toddler movement classes, to teaching preschool elementary, and high school physical education.

Steve is author of the Books "Designing Preschool Movement Programs (1992)," and "Active for Life: Developmentally Appropriate Movement Programs for Young Children (NAEYC, 2002)," along with over one hundred scholarly papers.

David M. Schwartz, Ph.D.

David M. Schwartz, Ph.D. served as the senior national measurement consultant for The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt and Pearson Inc., for ten years.

He is a Clinical Neuropsychologist in Atlanta, Georgia and teaches the School Neuropsychology cohort in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Schwartz also consults with local school districts and clinical settings, as well as having served as an adjunct professor at Kennesaw State University.

Dr. Schwartz holds a joint Ph.D. in Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in Neuropsychology. He has extensive experience in the area of assessment and treatment, and serves the child, adolescent, and adult populations. Dr. Schwartz utilizes a “consensus building” approach when working with individuals, families, professionals, and community resources. He is known for his practical recommendations and his easy accessibility. 

Donna Thornton

Donna Thornton-Roberts

Donna Thornton-Robert's love and zeal for child care and its quality are infectious. Donna has spent the last twenty years motivating, sharing, and inspiring people to reach new levels of quality with relevant and practical training. She inspires, teaches, and equips child-care professionals to make the small, but important changes that make a big difference in their programs.

She is the author of Motivating Staff through Exceptional Personnel Policies, Stop Being a Chicken in a Buzzards World, and Child Care is a Business, Too. She has written a Management Curriculum for Child Care Administrators and been published in Child Care Information Exchange and by the Association of Christian Schools International.

Dr. Suzanne Thouvenelle

Director of Training and Development and co-founder of MOBIUS Corporation, a worldwide High Technology, Engineering, E&M Support and Consulting Company, Dr. Suzanne Thouvenelle possesses a variety of educational research, development, management, financial, and administrative responsibilities. 

Since the inception of MOBIUS Corporation in 1983, Dr. Thouvenelle has directed numerous educational research projects associated with early childhood education. Additionally, she has worked directly with major business partners, including Childcraft Education Corporation and the IBM Corporation in efforts to integrate computer technology in the field of early childhood education.

Dr. Thouvenelle has served on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Technology Panel that helped develop the joint position statement issued by NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College On Young Children and Technology. She has also held faculty positions at The George Washington University, Wheelock College and Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Mary Zurn

Dr. Mary Zurn serves on the Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board and as an advisor to the Primrose Children’s Foundation. As the former Vice President of Education and Professional Development for Primrose Schools for eight years, Dr. Zurn oversaw the development of curriculum and training for Primrose Schools. Dr. Zurn continues to serve as a company spokesperson on education and child-development-related topics and writes for 360 Parenting, a unique blog providing fun, useful tips and resources for parents.

Dr. Zurn has worked actively in a variety of educational arenas, serving as an influential instructor, administrator, and designer of innovative interactive multimedia applications and teaching materials. Prior to joining Primrose, Dr. Zurn worked as an independent educational consultant, conducting workshops related to early reading, writing development, children’s literature, and the effective use of technology in learning.

Throughout her career, Mary Zurn has been committed to early childhood education. In 1972, she co-founded the Gateway Preschool and Kindergarten in Atlanta, where she directed and taught for eight years. In addition to the program for young children, the school also offered tutorial assistance to K-12 students with learning challenges. From 1981 to 1986, she lectured and supervised students doing field work in reading, language arts, and children’s literature at Georgia State University, where she earned her Ph.D. in early childhood education.

Dr. Zurn went on to work for IBM’s K-12 Education Division for ten years, during which she designed multiple technology-based programs. The teacher-support materials her teams created to accompany the programs won awards as guides for the successful integration of technology into the curriculum.

Dr. Zurn’s passion centers on a love of children, education, and reading, and she is convinced that a good children’s book is the best tool to introduce or teach virtually any topic. A firm believer in Primrose’s Balanced Learningcurriculum, Dr. Zurn puts special emphasis on literacy instruction, including reading comprehension and writing, appropriate exploratory and hands-on learning activities to help children build a foundation for understanding of mathematics, and the integration of technology into classrooms and the curriculum.

Before earning her doctorate in early childhood education from Georgia State, Dr. Zurn received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Emory University and her Master’s Degree in special education from Georgia State University.

Mary Zurn resides in Acworth, Georgia, with her husband Warren. They have two grown sons and are also the proud grandparents of twin girls.

Dr. Michael Rich

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM,Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, came to medicine after a twelve-year career as a filmmaker (including serving as assistant director to Akira Kurosawa on Kagemusha). As Director of the Center on Media and Child Health ( at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Rich combines his creative experience with rigorous scientific evidence about the powerful positive and negative effects of media to advise pediatricians and parents how to use media in ways that optimize child development at Recipient of the AAP’s Holroyd-Sherry Award and the SAHM New Investigator Award, Dr. Rich has developed media-based research methodologies and authored numerous papers and AAP policy statements, testified to the United States Congress, and makes regular national press appearances.

Dr. Laura Jana

Dr. Laura Jana is the proud mother of three, a published parenting and children’s book author, a certified child passenger safety technician, and an early literacy advocate for Reach Out and Read In addition to owning Primrose School of Legacy in Omaha, Nebraska, pediatrician Dr. Jana is also a nationally recognized parenting expert, health communicator, and the award-winning co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn (2nd Ed, AAP Sept 2010) and Food Fights (AAP, 2007). Having first served as a consultant to Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. Jana went on to co-found The Dr. Spock Company in 1999, and then subsequently founded her own company - Practical Parenting Consulting. Well recognized nationally for her ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles for children and offer credible practical parenting advice to new and expectant parents, Dr. Jana now serves as a media spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics; is on the advisory board for American Baby magazine and The Walt Disney Internet Group; and serves as an expert consultant for academic organizations, non-profits, and major corporations such as P&G, Dorel, Playtex and Reckitt Benckhiser/Lysol. Having spent several years as a parenting expert on Omaha's top morning radio program and as the parenting expert for her NBC affiliate, Dr. Jana's advice has also been regularly featured in national media outlets including CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America Health, Fox & Friends, People, The New York Times, and Parents magazine. For more on Dr. Jana, go to