PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont Education Speaker Series (ESS) kicks off its 2014-2015 season at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30 with a panel discussion on "Preparing Students for the Age of Technology." The panel will include Bay Area entrepreneur Ali Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, which promotes computer science in the classroom.

September's event is the first in the series of six talks that feature speakers from the Bay Area, as well as nationally recognized researchers and parenting experts. ESS is a collaboration of parents and educators presenting speakers on topics related to raising healthy children and young adults.

The panel ìPreparing Students for the Age of Technologyî will include Bay Area entrepreneur Ali Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, which promotes computer
The panel ìPreparing Students for the Age of Technologyî will include Bay Area entrepreneur Ali Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, which promotes computer science in the classroom.

"This year's series offers a broad range of topics, so we hope there's something for everyone," said Julie Moll, a parent volunteer who helps coordinate the ESS -- which is funded entirely by ticket sales and private contributions. "This year, we have a strong mix of professional development and student programs that dovetail with the parent education programs."

Moll said the talks aim to highlight current research into education practice and student development as well as stir new thinking about accepted parenting practices.

"Whether parents agree or disagree with the content, the talks may spark conversations and promote a common language among parents and teachers," Moll said.


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Scheduled ESS topics for discussion include "NurtureShock: New Thinking About Parenting" (Oct. 21), in which Po Bronson, co-author of the best-selling book, "NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children," will explore the science of parenting, contradicting conventional wisdom about parenting practices.

"The Physiology of Sleep" (Nov. 18) features sleep specialist Dr. Jerold Kram, who will also give a talk to high school students on Nov. 17. The doctor will address specific ways parents can promote healthy sleep habits for health, development and lifelong wellness.

In "Why We Need to Change the Way We Teach Math" (Jan. 27), education reform advocate Dan Meyer will address the importance of teaching students to formulate and solve problems rather than memorize and apply formulas. He will also host a workshop for educators on Common Core math the same day.

The topic for the Feb. 24 ESS is "The Social and Emotional Lives of Boys and Girls" and features Rosalind Wiseman, best-selling author of "Queen Bees & Wannabes" and "Masterminds & Wingmen." She will offer advice about helping young people navigate the realities of "girl world and boy world" and how technology and social media have altered how kids communicate. She will also conduct an assembly for Piedmont Middle School students.

In "Effects of Marijuana on the Developing Brain" (March 24), Dr. Abby Medcalf, a specialist in drug and alcohol treatment, will explore recent studies showing that using marijuana and other illegal drugs during adolescence can disrupt brain development, with long-term implications.

ESS, now in its third year, has grown in popularity with parents, students and educators, Moll said.

"The series is still very new but parents and teachers are spreading the word," she said. "People seem to like the mix of local experts and nationally known authors. I've heard from some couples that the series is like their 'date night' and leads to spirited conversations about child rearing."

Piedmont schools Superintendent Constance Hubbard, who helped launch the ESS program, believes parent education programs help foster a healthy learning environment for students.

"When parents and educators have a common language and shared understanding about student well-being and educational practices, students and the school community benefit," Hubbard said.

FYI
What: Piedmont Education Speaker Series
Where: Piedmont High School, 800 Magnolia Ave.
When: 7:30 to 9 p.m.; first talk is scheduled on Sept. 30
Tickets: The series can be purchased for $50. At this time, tickets for individual events cannot be purchased in advance. Tickets may be available at the door for $10.
To purchase: Contact the Piedmont Joint Fundraising Office at 510-653-1816 or email helpingpiedmontschools@gmail.com