The Education Speaker Series Starts Its Fourth Season on September 15

professional development opportunity underwritten by ESS

Parent education is an important means of promoting communication and engagement within the school community.  Now in its fourth year, Piedmont’s year-long Education Speaker Series features a mix of local and nationally-known speakers, addressing a range of topics related to raising healthy children and young adults.  To the extent possible, the speakers offer workshops for educators and student assemblies that dovetail with the parent education programs.

Dr. Denise Clark Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education and co-founder of the education reform group Challenge Success, praised the District for coordinating parent education with programs for students and educators:

Parent education is a critical component in every school community.  Schools and students benefit when all stakeholders are involved and informed about youth well-being and educational best practices.  When parents and schools work together, they can dovetail home and classroom practices to encourage every student to thrive.

The Education Speaker Series is intended to promote this collaboration, as well as common language and opportunity for thoughtful discussion among parents and educators on issues relating to education today.

Dr. Michael Riera, the former Head of School at Redwood Day School and a nationally-known speaker on the subject of adolescence, also praised the Education Speaker Series:

In my experience the Piedmont Education Speaker Series is one of those institutions that creates the kind of community parents and guardians need.  These are opportunities to hear national thought leaders on a range of topics pertinent to all parents.  Best of all, it gives everyone a common experience and language to further discussion on the topics presented.  And yes, this means disagreeing with speakers in ways that deepen one’s own understanding of the issues and their own values.  

This year’s Education Speaker Series, which begins on September 15, includes:

Mindful Parenting & Mindfulness in Education

September 15, 2015

Santa Clara University professor Shauna Shapiro, Ph.D, has studied meditation for over 20 years, published over 100 journal articles, and authored the critically acclaimed books, The Art and Science of Mindfulness and Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach To Setting Limits And Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child.  Dr. Shapiro, whose work has been featured in Wired, USA Today, Oxygen, and the American Psychologist, will explore how mindfulness can play an important role in both parenting and in the classroom.


Technology & The Human Brain

October 20, 2015

Matt Richtel, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and author of the bestselling book A Deadly Wandering, explores the science of the human brain, the impact of technology on attention, impulse-control, and decision-making, and the fallacy of multi-tasking. He received the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of articles in the Times on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks. His reporting stimulated widespread efforts to curb distracted driving.

Mr. Richtel will present an assembly for high school students in addition to the parent education program.


The Gift of Failure     

November 17, 2015

Education reporter Jessica Lahey writes the bi-weekly column The Parent-Teacher Conference about “the intersection of education and parenting” for the The New York Times, and reports on education policy for The Atlantic and Vermont Public Radio.  Lahey’s book, The Gift of Failure, explores the principle that failure and disappointment are essential childhood and adolescent experiences.  The ability to acknowledge and learn from mistakes helps children develop competence, autonomy and a life-long willingness to take on challenges.


How Science Education is Changing

January 26, 2016

Dr. Elizabeth Stage, Director of Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, and Dr. Suzanna Loper, Middle School Curriculum Director at the Hall’s Learning Design Group, are national leaders in Science education.  They will discuss the Next Generation Science Standards and related changes Science curriculum and instruction.

Dr. Stage and Dr. Loper will present a professional development workshop for educators in addition to the parent education program.


Raising Resilient Girls

February 23, 2016

Girls Leadership Institute Co-Founder and Executive Director Simone Marean explores the challenges girls face today and what adults can do to help girls meet and overcome these challenges.  Covering girl dynamics from preschool through high school, Ms. Simone addresses the skills needed for girls to: know who they are, what they believe, and how to express their feelings and beliefs constructively; and develop emotional intelligence and healthy relationships.

Ms. Marean will present a professional development workshop for educators in addition to the parent education program.


Rethinking the College Admissions Process:

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be

March 22, 2016

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni writes frequently about higher education.  Bruni examines how Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined — and their worth established — by college admissions.   Bruni’s book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, offers a fresh perspective on the college admissions process and a path out of the needless anxiety and fear associated with college admissions.


All events will be from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Piedmont High School.   For more information about the Education Speaker Series please see the Piedmont Portal:

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The Education Speaker Series is presented by the Piedmont Unified School District and Piedmont Adult School, with the generous support of the Piedmont Education Foundation, Piedmont Parents Network, ESS Speaker Circle, and individual contributors.  Past speakers and topics include:

  • Panel discussion on Preparing Students for the Age of Technology, featuring Stephanie Griffin, PUSD’s Director of Instructional Technology; serial entrepreneurs Ali Partovi, Co-Founder of, and Dion Lim, CEO of Next Lesson; and Kurt Fleischer, Senior Scientist at Pixar Animation Studios.
  • Author Po Bronson on Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children.
  • Dr. Jerold Kram on The Physiology of Sleep.
  • Education reform advocate Dan Meyer on Why We Need to Change the Way We Teach Math.
  • Author Rosalind Wiseman on The Social and Emotional Lives of Boys and Girls.
  • Abby Medcalf PhD on The Effects of Marijuana on the Developing Brain.  
  • Psychologist Michael A. Tompkins, Ph.D. on Coping with School-Related Anxiety.
  • Educator and author Michael Riera, Ph.D on Understanding Teenagers.
  • Psychologist Ariel Trost, Ph.D on Kids, Food, and Body Image.
  • Bruce Valentine, PTA, ACT of the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes at Children’s Hospital, on Raising Healthy Athletes.
  • Poet, author, performance artist, and former teacher Taylor Mali, In Praise of Teachers.
  • Panel discussion of Character Education & Service Learning.
  • Panel discussion of Academic Integrity.
  • Psychologist and author Madeline Levine, Ph.D on Raising Healthy Children.
  • Educator and curriculum specialist Cheryl Wozniak, Ph.D on Improving Boys’ Reading Motivation Through Time, Choice, and Access to Good Books.
  • Educator and author Denise Pope, Ph.D on How to Foster a Healthy Love of Learning.
  • Education entrepreneur Glen Tripp on The Innovator’s Mindset.
  • Educator and education consultant Stephanie Rafanelli on Young Childhood Education.



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