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Parent Education Committee » PEC Past Events

PEC Past Events

2017-2018 P.E.C. Past Events: 

January 21, 2018 








HPISD PEC will hold 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


Kindly RSVP to plan time for parking (Meadows Museum Parking Garage)

Highland Park ISD Parent Education Committee and Highland Park United Methodist Church are honored to host Scott Kelly.  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.

Kindly contact with questions.


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 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


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.)