P.E.C. Past Events

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September 14, 2017 



Highland Park ISD Parent Education Committee and Highland Park United Methodist Church are honored to host Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, who reveals the surprising truth about the four hidden personality types that drive everything we do. Learn how to understand yourself better—and also how to influence others more effectively.

During her multi-book investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question "How do I respond to expectations?" we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively. With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It's far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on habits and happiness. Her New York Timesbestseller, Better than Before, is about how we change our habits. The Happiness Project and Happier at Home were both instant bestsellers, and The Happiness Project spent more than two years on the bestseller list, including at a stint at #1. Her books have sold more than two million copies, in 30 languages. She also has a popular podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin

April 26, 2017

Wesley Hall at HPUMC

Amy Blankson, author of The Future of Happiness

  Technology—at least in theory—is improving our productivity, efficiency, and communication. Yet the proliferation of smartphones and Internet access also coincides with historically high levels of depression and life dissatisfaction. As the speed of innovation increases, researchers are turning attention to a crucial question: Will we continue to see declines in physical, emotional, and mental health due to our current use of technology, or can we use new strategies to harness technology and improve happiness and wellbeing?  In this talk, Amy Blankson shared simple, scientifically-proven, and practical lifehacks to increase performance and wellbeing in the Digital Era.  

Blankson is the only person to be named a Point of Light by two Presidents (President Bush and President Clinton).  She received a Presidential appointment to serve a five-year term on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National Service, and was one of the youngest delegates to the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future.  Amy received her BA from Harvard and MBA from Yale School of Management. View Amy Blankson’s recent presentation at


April 6, 2017

HPHS Auditorium

Screenagers film showing

  Screenagers probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including the director's own, and depicts messy struggles, over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through surprising insights from authors and brain scientists solutions emerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world. View the trailer at 

The showing of the film was followed by a brief discussion with Miki Johnston, LCSW, MSW.  With more than 20 years of experience, Miki Johnston, is a therapist in private practice and a dynamic public speaker. Her specializations include  supporting teens and families facing issues related to adolescence, parent-child conflicts, anxiety, social media, healthy teen relationships, resilience, and sexual health


March 1, 2017

Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

SHAWN ACHOR, author of The Happiness Advantage, 

Before Happiness and The Ripple Effect

At schools and companies alike, we are sometimes taught to think: “if I work harder, then I will be successful, and then I will be happy.” This formula–which undergirds much of our educational and professional world–is scientifically backwards. Achor will explain how positive brains reap a unique advantage raising nearly every educational and business outcome–but only if we get the formula right. By demonstrating how happiness is a choice, we can help students not only cultivate positive habits and mindsets, but achieve higher levels of success as a result. 

Achor has lectured or worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as the NFL, the NBA, the Pentagon and the White House. His research has been published in the top psychology journal for work he did at UBS in partnership with Yale University to transform how stress impacts the body, and he recently did a two-hour interview with Oprah at her house to discuss his mission to bring positive psychology to the world. To view Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, click here.

Click below to hear Shawn's presentation at the March 1 PEC event.

Feb. 1, 2017

Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

DR. LEONARD SAX, author of The Collapse of Parenting

This presentation begins with the question, “Why are so many kids today so fragile?” Sax begins with a review of evidence that American kids are indeed more fragile – about 400% (4X) more likely to be anxious or depressed, and much more likely to fall apart in response to stress – compared with American kids from the same demographic 40 or 50 years ago. Sax defines fragility as sensitivity to volatility. If that definition is valid, then one reason that so many kids today are so fragile might be because parents shield them from volatility and uncertainty. The remedy, then, is to expose kids to more volatility, within constraints: you don’t want your child to be run over by a truck or abducted by strangers. (Becoming UnFragile is NOT the same thing as being resilient, as Sax explains.)

Click here to view the notes from Dr. Sax's presentation.

Click below to hear the audio from Dr. Sax's presentation.

March 16, 2016

Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

JESSICA LAHEY, author of The Gift of Failure

New York Times & Atlantic Monthly columnist Jessica Lahey discussed her book, The Gift of Failure, and touched on the importance of helping our children develop inner resilience as opposed to being crushed by failure.

Apr. 11, 2016

Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

CHRIS HERREN, basketball star, author, & Project Purple Initiative founder

No doubt you have see the HPHS Student Council’s "WE ARE PURPLE" signs around our community.  The PEC invited former NBA star Chris Herren’s to talk about his moving story and his struggles with addiction and how the Project Purple Initiative got started. Middle & High School students were encouraged to attend as well.  

May 12, 2016

Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

ANGELA DUCKWORTH, author of GRIT- The Power of Passion & Perserverance

Leading Ted talk presenter & research psychologist Angela Duckworth discussed how self-control and grit, more than talent and IQ, may hold the keys to a better life. Duckworth also discussed her highly anticipated book, GRIT.


Feb. 8

MIS/HPMS 5/6 Assembly Room

DR. CHRISTINA SEVADJIAN, Why & How to Prioritize Sleep

Dr. Cristina Sevadjian
 shared the latest research on the learning & attention components of sleep & the importance of sleep on our emotional well-being and behavior.  For parents of children of all ages.

April 22, 2015

HP United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall


Donovan Campbell is a decorated military officer who served three combat deployments, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star of Valor for his time in Iraq. Donovan has more than a decade of experience leading teams in some of the most demanding environments imaginable, both on and off the battlefield. He is passionate about bringing a focus on building character and integrity in our community. Click here for an event flier.

Feb. 23, 2015

Embracing the Middle School Years

Highland Park Middle School Auditorium

  The PEC hosted an engaging discussion with Andy Kerckhoff, author of Critical Connection and the blog Growing Up Well. Andy is a middle school teacher, coach, parent and a Baylor graduate. Early adolescents are trying desperately to understand themselves, their world, and where they can fit in successfully and happily. It is a time of great turmoil for some, while for others it is a time of great excitement and wonder. For most, it is both an exciting adventure entering a larger world and a terribly anxious time of uncertainty. Middle school is a time of tremendous change, and parenting early adolescents is often the most daunting challenge families will face. No matter how hard it gets, do not disengage. Do something—anything—to connect with and guide your child today. Parenting is an adventure of the greatest significance. It is your legacy. 

Jan. 14, 2015

First, Middle, Last: How birth order plays out in a family and challenges your parenting style

9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 25, 2015
McCulloch Intermediate School 5/6 Assembly Room

Dr. Kelly Jameson will help identify important patterns of birth order and how you can improve your parenting skills and help each child achieve success at home, school and with peers. In addition to first borns, middle borns and last borns, special segments will also include discussions of only children, sibling conflict and what combination of children is the most difficult.  Knowing the benefits and challenges of each birth order can give parents insight on why their children act so differently when then they are all being raised under the same roof!  This social science carries more weight than we give it credit for within our homes!
Kelly Jameson, PhD, maintains a private practice in Dallas where she works with pre-teens, adolescents, parents and young adults. She also serves as the Upper School Counselor at Parish Episcopal School where she works with 400 adolescents and their parents on any social or emotional issue that a teen might face! She regularly speaks to parent groups about topics such as stress, the adolescent brain, raising girls, raising boys, and resilience.  More information can be found at

Jan. 14, 2015

Armstrong Elementary School

Feeding Your Family Healthily (Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen) 


Megan Lyons of The Lyons' Share Wellness hosted a special PEC workshop with helpful tips including:

  • Most important nutrition changes to improve kids' health
  • Whether or not to force kids to eat when they say they're not hungry
  • How to deal with picky eaters
  • How to spend less time in the kitchen, but still feed your family healthily

Megan Lyons is a health coach providing nutrition education, motivation and accountability to help clients feel their healthiest and happiest. Megan is a:

  • Highland Park High School graduate, 2003
  • AB, Harvard University, 2007
  • MBA, Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern), 2012
  • Certified Holisitc Health Practitioner, AADP
  • Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, IAHC
  • Certified Running Coach, RRCA
  • Candidate, Masters in Holistic Nutrition, Hawthron University. 

Click here for an event flier.

Oct. 16, 2014

Bradfield Elementary, 4300 Southern, Dallas, TX 75205

Get Organized! Creating a Better Organized & Managed Home and Family

Are you living in crisis mode? 

Running out the door forgetting keys, homework, lunches? 
Rushing to meetings and doctor’s appointments and overscheduling? 
Buying fast food for dinner instead of a well-planned meal? 

Maybe you have given up on a peaceful, simplified life in exchange for an overcommitted chaotic life. Whether you have physical clutter, a cluttered calendar, or a cluttered brain…your clutter is costing you and your family. 

The average American spends about 55 minutes a day, roughly 12 weeks a year, looking for things they know they own but cannot find. Does this sound like you? Lorraine Brock will share practical tips about time management, meal planning, home organization, and more. If you are ready to help your family make some much needed changes in your life, put this event on your calendar. Say “Yes” to a more organized home for your family, and “No” to a disorganized lifestyle. 

Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and Founder and President of Get Organized!, a DFW-based professional organizing company, organizing cluttered homes, businesses, and lives. While Get Organized! de-clutters spaces, Lorraine helps de-clutter families and individuals through her presentations.

April 29, 2014

MIS 5/6 Assembly Room

"The Parents We Mean To Be" Skype Event with Dr. Richard Weissbourd

                            In his book by the same title, Dr. Weissbourd shares 10 parenting strategies for raising kids who care.  Dr. Weissbourd is a child and family psychologist on the faculty of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and School of Education...and a dad.  HPHS principal, Walter Kelly, has described this book as "transformational" and looks forward to personally introducing this relevant author and topic. Click here for an event flier     

Click here to download a handout that was used during Dr. Weissbourd's presentation 

 April 8,2014

 MIS/HPMS Auditorium

   (targeted for parents of children 5th -- 12th grade)

April 9 2014

Hyer Elementary Auditorium

   (targeted for parents of children Pre-K through 4th grade)

"Maximizing Your Child's Potential: Healthy Brain Development in a Media Age"

  Gloria DeGaetano, an internationally and nationally acclaimed educator, author, and speaker, brings her 30+ years of experience to audiences who seek to better understand how to manage the use of media in their environments.  Gloria's parent education video by the same name was the first video in the nation about the impact of screen machines on young brains. Ms. DeGaetano is a respected voice for both children and parents.

Click here for an event flier

Click the following items to download resources and handouts for the meetings:

Please click here to download a letter from Ms. DeGaetano to parents written upon the conclusion of her programs with our parents and faculty

Gloria DeGaetano's program for parents of students in grades 5-12


Gloria DeGaetano's program for parents of students in grades Pre-K - 4

Feb. 13, 2014 - Armstrong Auditorium (targeted for parents of children Pre-K through 4th grade) 

Feb. 20, 2014 - MIS 5/6 Assembly Room (targeted for parents of children 5th-12th grade) 

"Brain Development, Basic Impact of Stress and the Role of Hormones and Where they Fit" 

   Karen Williams, MSSW, is a writer, speaker and curriculum developer known for her ability to explain the latest neuroscience and apply it to real life situations.  With 30+ years experience, Ms. Williams is special projects director for Rainbow Days, Inc., a Dallas-based non-profit known for its Curriculum-Based Support Group (CBSG) programs and its leadership in the field of children's behavioral health. Click here for an event flier.

Click here to access Karen's presentation handout which includes the book recommendation, Brainstorm by Dr. Daniel Siegel. Additionally, access to the brain development webinars produced by Rainbow Days can be viewed by going to and selecting the Online Webinar option.  Check that site for availability and potential pricing associated with viewing these resources.

Jan. 23, 2014

University Park Elementary Auditorium

"Body Image and the Performance Trap in Both Boys and Girls"

Licensed professional counselors Angie Buja and Becky Page of Sparrow House Counseling of Dallas discussed the image and performance trap issues our kids face today. A video of the presentation is below:

The following links are handouts and the powerpoint from the January presentation:

Nov. 12, 2013

3817 Centenary Avenue

Please join the CARE Community Luncheon at Noon on Tuesday, November 12th at 3817 Centenary Avenue for an informed discussion about the ramifications of a child's attending a party which was busted by the police.  Reservations are required.  Please click here for a flier with more details

Nov. 14, 2013

Hyer Elementary Auditorium


In our ever-changing, visually explicit culture, parents need to know how to introduce and navigate the subject of sex education with their children. Come join the Parent Education Committee on Thursday, November 14th from 7-8:30 pm at the Hyer Elementary Auditorium located at 3920 Caruth Blvd. when they welcome Mary Flo Ridley as she presents "Sooner Than You Think--Simple Answers to Challenging Questions." Find out how Mary Flo can help you guide your children to a healthy sexual character. We look forward to seeing you on November 14th! Click here to view the event flier.

Oct. 22, 2013

Highland Park Middle School


The Parent Education Committee is pleased to partner with C.A.R.E. during Red Ribbon Week to present an informative and relevant parent program.  Please join us at 10:00 am or 7:00 pm at the Highland Park Middle School Auditorium on Tuesday, October 22nd to learn more from our panel of experts as they discuss the latest trends in teen drug use.  We hope to see you there!

Click here for an event flier.

The Parent Education Committee is pleased to announce their first program of the 2013-14 school year, featuring Robyn O'Brien and Lisa Leake. The emphasis will be on nutrition and the food we eat.

Oct. 8, 2013

Highland Park Middle School Auditorium

 Robyn O'Brien and Lisa Leake

The Parent Education Committee hosted its first program of the year with special guests Robyn O'Brien and Lisa Leake on the subject of nutrition and the food we eat.  The turnout was especially high as this subject is one our parents have requested we address.  Additionally, due to popular demand, this program is now available to be viewed on the PEC YouTube channel (search HPISD PEC on YouTube).  For those parents who could not attend, or for those who simply would like to see this program again, please click on the link below:

Karen Jacobsen, HPISD Food Services Manager, also attended the event and wanted to inform our parents of some steps being taken in our cafeterias to promote greater awareness of the food being served.  If you visit:  http:\\, you can view cafeteria menus for all elementary campuses and the MIS/HPMS campus (HPHS cafeteria menu coming soon).  By clicking on any given day's menu, you can understand the nutritional value of each item being served; allergy filters can also be selected so that you are better informed.  Currently, a one day gluten free menu is being test piloted at Armstrong elementary, and another elementary will be testing the menu in January.  Please note, for kindergarteners and first graders to participate in this menu, a doctor's directive must be submitted and approved.  Hormone and antibiotic-free beef is also being tested at certain campuses.  Based upon feedback, this item may be incorporated into the menus' ingredients.

A former food industry analyst, strategist, author and mother of four, Robyn O’Brien brings insight and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on our health.

Robyn graduated as the top woman in her class from business school before working as an equity analyst on a global portfolio team. She is regarded as an expert on children’s health policy, called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by The New York Times and has been named by SHAPE Magazine as a “Women To Shape the World”, by Forbes Woman as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter,” and by The Discovery Channel as one of its 15 Top Visionaries. Robyn’s work has also been recognized by individuals such as Dr. Oz, Robert Kennedy Jr., Ted Turner and Prince Charles. She is the founder of the visionary organization AllergyKids which is focused on restoring the integrity of the food supply and the health of children. Her work is seen in Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner’s 2012 video, Labels Matter, and with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Robyn has graciously donated copies of this book to each campus library.  Be sure to check it out if interested.

"Robyn O'Brien inspires us in THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH with the information that she has learned about our food supply and offers practical and affordable steps to take to protect the health of our families." -Dr. Oz

“In the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have. Robyn O’Brien’s courageous pursuit is an example of how we can all do our parts to protect the health of our families." -Erin Brockovich

Lisa Leake, of "100 Days of Real Food" fame, approaches our diet as a real mom seeking real answers for today's busy families.  Her blog,, outlines her tireless quest to do the best for her family and others when it comes to the subject of what we eat, avoiding as much processed food as possible.