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PEC Past Events

2019-20 Past Events:
March 5 - Authors Sissy Goff and Dave Thomas
march 5 parent event
The Power of Words
November 18, 2019
pec november
Screenagers, Part 2
October 21, 2019 
Screenagers event promo graphic
The Science of Stress
September 23, 2019
Managing stress PEC promo
2018-19 Past Events: 
A discussion on vaping
April 30, 2019
Dr. Hal Urschel shared the medical facts on vaping, while Dr. Steven Lytle, from Sparrow House Counseling, explained how to work together as families to treat a vaping addiction. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion led by District administrators and counselors. 
Dr. Steven Lytle PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Founding Partner of Sparrow House Counseling

Dr. Steven Lytle is a licensed psychologist with Sparrow House Counseling in Dallas, Texas. He attended the University of Oklahoma where he received a B.A. in Psychology. He later graduated with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Dr. Lytle acquired his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University. Previously, Dr. Lytle worked as a therapist with Green Oaks Hospital in Dallas, Texas as well as counseling families through the juvenile probation department in Dallas County. Steven also served as clinical director of adolescent services at the Cedars Hospital in DeSoto, Texas. Additionally, Dr. Lytle was an adjunct professor of Psychology at Criswell College. 
Gretchen Rubin
March 26, 2019
Jonathan Mooney
February 5, 2019
Decoding Dyslexia-Park Cities, PCLDA and HPISD PEC partnered together for a first, inspirational and one-of-a-kind event with headlined author, speaker and advocate, Jonathan Mooney. Mooney explained how learning differences (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are profoundly paradoxical experiences. Students with these challenges can struggle in traditional settings. Yet, emerging brain research suggests that many students with these labels have profound gifts for creative and visual thinking that can sometimes go unrecognized in academic environments. As a result, these students are at risk of enduring patterns of academic failure, learned helplessness and low self-esteem.
Mooney's presentation tackled this paradox head-on, outlining the research that validates a reframing of LD/ADHD, not as a set of deficits or disorders but instead, as cognitive gifts. Speaking personally and from the heart (with first-hand knowledge and experiences), Mooney will help us consider the systemic and cultural barriers to validating these unique learning styles. Most importantly, he will empower parents and students alike with concrete strategies to build positive self-understanding.
Jonathan Mooney is a writer and learning advocate who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, yet he rose to achieve honors as a graduate of Brown University in English literature. He has established himself as one of the foremost leaders in the neurodiversity and learning revolution and has published two books (Learning Outside The Lines and The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal), both of which are considered foundational texts in the disability rights and the inclusive education movements, in addition to being integrated into curriculums at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University. Mooney has won numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, and he has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. 
Brainious Screening 
November 4, 2018   


We know as a fact that the way we "feed" a child's brain shapes it, but what do we know about the kind of experiences that are helpful to grow a healthy young brain? Brainious is a film that shares useful neuro-knowledge for parents and educators in order to help children thrive and reach their full potential.

From understanding emotions with the brain in mind to the importance of secure attachment, mindset and how to improve focus and learning abilities, Brainious covers a broad spectrum of subjects. If you really want to understand what shapes children's brains and how to provide healthy experiences for young minds to grow in, this documentary is a must-see. 

In collaboration with many bright minds: Allan Schore, Dan Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson, Carol Dweck, Matthieu Ricard, and Susan Kaiser Greenland and featuring the work of Momentous Institute and several other incredible agencies. For more information visit:


The Momentous Institute is devoted to children achieving their full potential and after 98 years of doing work, we can say with confidence that strong social-emotional health is a powerful lever toward that end. We define social-emotional health as the capacity to understand and manage our emotions, reactions and relationships.


Clay Olsen on Fight the New Drug 

October 15, 2018             


After over 100 school assemblies around the country and receiving thousands of emails from teens around the world, Fight the New Drug has developed 5 tips for parents on how to address the issue of explicit material with teenagers. These tips are what teens wish their parents knew when approaching this subject. If you currently have teenagers, are about to have teenagers, plan on having teenagers someday, or just want to learn more, you won't want to miss this insightful and powerful presentation.

Clay Olsen, President and Co-Founder of Fight the New Drug, is a creative and passionate social entrepreneur born and raised in Northern Utah. In 2010 he co-found Fight the New Drug (, a youth movement dedicated to raising awareness on the harmful effects of explicit material and other forms of exploitation through science, facts and personal accounts. Fight the New Drug has been featured on ABC Nightline, ABC News, TIME Magazine, The New York Times, NPR, CBS, CNN, USA Today and more. Clay has personally presented at hundreds of secondary schools, universities, and event centers to hundreds of thousands all over the world. He’s spoken at the United Nations, the World Congress of Families and the Set Free Global Summit. 

Event Resources:

Education Websites:
Good Pictures Bad Pictures - Kristen Jensen
How to talk to your kids about pornography - Dina Alexander
The Porn Myth - Matt Fradd
The Drug of the New Millennium - Mark Kastleman
Your Brain On Porn - Gary Wilson
Fortify - Fight The New Drug
Recovery Websites:


Jeff Yalden on Why Your Life Matters

September 17, 2018



For 25 Years, Jeff Yalden has been changing lives. He’s a celebrity Teen & Family Life Coach a Two-Time Marine of the Year, and a Gulf War Veteran. He’s a three-time Amazon BEST-SELLING Author, Podcast Host of Mental Health & Motivation: The Unlikely Life Coach, and an Online Course Creator for Teens and School Communities. He’s an expert of Teen Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, and Crisis Intervention. His work has been featured on A&E, MTV, the Oprah Network, USA Today, TIME Magazine, and the Harley Davidson Magazine referred to him as “Toughest Motorcycle Rider” in 2015. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has traveled all 50 states and 49 different countries addressing over 4 Million people.


To listen to this presentation please click below. 



For more information click here!


2017-18  Past Events: 

Ana Homayoun
April 19, 2018

In today’s always-on digital culture, many of today’s students face a challenging paradox: the tools they need to use to get their work done – tablets and computers – often provide their biggest distraction from getting work done. As a result, students quickly become overwhelmed and stressed out trying to manage the daily confluence of online interactions with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and family life. In this insightful new book, noted author and educator Ana Homayoun translates the new language of social media, and provides pragmatic, prescriptive advice on how to help students manage distractions, become more organized, improve time-management, boost productivity, and relieve stress. With fresh insights and a solutions-oriented perspective, Homayoun explains how social media has created a new language of communication that parents and educators need to understand, and shows how parents, educators and students can work together to promote healthy socialization, effective self-regulation, and overall safety and wellness.

Ana is the author of three books, and her relaxed yet effective approach to encouraging personal excellence has motivated tens of thousands of tweens, teens and young adults. Her first book, That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life, provides practical solutions to the common organization, time-management and motivation challenges facing many tween and teen boys. The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life explores the real-life dilemmas faced by so many girls and young women stuck in the quest to find success amid a culture of perfectionism and offers simple, implementable strategies for overcoming the need to live up to others’ standards of success. Her latest book, Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World, explains the new language of social media socialization, and details ways parents and educators can successfully work with students to promote self-regulation, safety, and well-being in an always-on digital culture.

Challenge Success: The Well-Balanced Student

February 20, 2018 

This hour and a half parent presentation explored society’s focus on grades, test scores and performance which leaves little time and energy for our kids to become resilient, successful, meaningful contributors for the 21st century. Based on sound educational research, Challenge Success provides strategies and tools that can be used immediately to help reduce stress in your family and help your child develop the strengths and skills he/she needs now and in the future. In this presentation, Margaret Dunlap, M.A., School Program Director for Challenge Success, will share how you can establish a healthier home environment for your school-aged child, reduce academic stress without sacrificing achievement, and increase your child’s resilience, creativity, and well-being. Margaret had held roles in education leadership and program management for over 25 years serving as a teacher and leadership specialist. She has coordinated National Board Certification, new teacher support programs for districts, and speaks nationally to faculty and parents on the topic of student well-being. The parent presentation follows the HPISD professional development day workshop which examines the tension that parents, students, and teachers often experience over issues such as homework, grades, and the culture of competition, and offers tools for creating a healthier school climate. 
To learn more about Challenge Success please visit their website
January 21, 2018 







HPISD PEC held one public screening of ANGST to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts. The one-time public showing will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by an informative video discussion, led by film narrator and anxiety expert Jenny Howe.  Free tickets are now available, and space is limited!  Priority seating for ticket holders. Click here to reserve tickets.

Through candid interviews, kids and teens discuss their anxiety and its impacts on their lives and relationships, as well as how they’ve found solutions and hope. The film also includes a special interview with Michael Phelps, a mental health advocate and one of the greatest athletes of all-time. In addition, the documentary provides discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, along with the help, resources and tools available to address the condition.  (appropriate for age 11 years+. Under age 11 viewer discretion advised). Click here to view trailer.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge in the U.S., impacting 54 percent of females and 46 percent of males, with age seven being the median age of onset, according to the World Health Organization. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Everyone involved in the development of “Angst” has a personal experience with anxiety – from the producers to the interviewees. 

 “Angst” screens in schools and communities across the world. The IndieFlix original film is expected to reach more than three million people around the world, through 25,000 community and school screenings.

Scott Kelly
November 6, 2017 


 A stunning memoir from the astronaut who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station--a candid account of his remarkable voyage, of the journeys off the planet that preceded it, and of his colorful formative years.

The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly inimical to human life. He describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both existential and banal: the devastating effects on the body; the isolation from everyone he loves and the comforts of Earth; the pressures of constant close cohabitation; the catastrophic risks of depressurization or colliding with space junk, and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home--an agonizing situation Kelly faced when, on another mission, his twin brother's wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he still had two months in space. 

Kelly's humanity, compassion, humor, and passion resonate throughout, as he recalls his rough-and-tumble New Jersey childhood and the youthful inspiration that sparked his astounding career, and as he makes clear his belief that Mars will be the next, ultimately challenging step in American spaceflight. A natural storyteller and modern-day hero, Kelly has a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come. Here, in his personal story, we see the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the boundless wonder of the galaxy. 

Ashley Merryman
October 12, 2017
Highland Park ISD Parent Education Committee is honored to host Ashley Merryman. Ashley Merryman's insights change the world's dialogue. Co-author of two New York Times bestsellers NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children and Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing – Merryman has had enormous critical and commercial acclaim.
Merryman's genius is that she finds the best science to explain our world, and, having done so, she transforms our lives. With Po Bronson, it was Merryman who introduced the world to Carol Dweck and her now-famous concept of growth mindset. Then Merryman brought the science of creativity to the public's attention. And now it's a stunningly new perspective on what it takes to become the world's best.

Merryman's taught Olympians how to better perform under pressure; she's advised executives on building a winning culture. From keynotes to conference rooms, Merryman has appeared at 180 venues. In addition to cover stories for Newsweek and New York, Merryman has written for New York Times Magazine, Time, Washington Post, the Guardian, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and many others. Her media appearances include: Charlie Rose; Tavis Smiley; Fox and Friends; @KatieCouric; John Stossel; CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN Newsroom; HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel; Canada AM; BBC World News and Sports Hour; and NPR's On Point. She once delighted "Mr. Wonderful" Kevin O'Leary with an on-air explanation of how science could predict his entrepreneurial success; Stephen Colbert devoted an entire segment of The Colbert Report to her take on kids and competition. Her mastery of psychology, neuroscience, and more is so authoritative her work's been cited in 130 academic journals and 417 books to date. And Merryman's won nine awards for her work, including: PEN Center USA Literary Award; AAAS Award for Science Journalism; an “Audie”; and two Clarions.

Merryman has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University. An attorney, Merryman previously served as a speechwriter and in other positions in the Clinton Administration. She lives in Los Angeles, directing a small all-volunteer tutoring program for inner-city kids since 1999.
Gretchen Rubin
September 14, 2017 

Highland Park ISD Parent Education Committee and Highland Park United Methodist Church hosted 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.  

Amy Blankson
April 26, 2017
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
Screenagers film showing
April 6, 2017 





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. 

Shawn Achor
March 1, 2017
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.
Dr. Leonard Sax
Feb. 1, 2017 

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.)