Parent Education Progams

Shady Side Academy is committed to providing annual parent education programs to provide support, resources and guidance to parents. All programs are free; most are open to the public.

Upcoming Programs

The Future of Civil Discourse
presented by Alexander Heffner

Tuesday evening, March 7, 2017, 7-8:30 p.m.
Hillman Center for Performing Arts, Senior School Campus
(get directions)

Alexander HeffnerAs we reside increasingly in a post-factual and contextual democracy, the body politic can be desensitized to fact and fiction. The ubiquitous divisiveness saturating politics today is a pervasive plague on discourse and governance. Social media can proliferate clickbait, fake news and filter bubbles. Algorithms polarize information intake. So what are possible prescriptions to correct this vicious cycle of incivility? What is the future of civil dialogue and free speech on campus? How does our digital footprint translate into prosocial or antisocial behavior? These questions and the contemporary state of U.S. media and politics will be explored.

Alexander Heffner is the host of The Open Mind on PBS. He has covered American politics, civic life and millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign. His work has been profiled in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Variety, Medium, NBC News, MSNBC, C-SPAN, CNN, BBC and NY1. His essays, reviews and op-eds have appeared in TIME, Reuters, RealClearPolitics, NYT's Room for Debate, The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.

Heffner will speak on the same topic to all SSA Senior School students at an all-school assembly on Wednesday, March 8.

Past Programs

Screenagers - Documentary Screening - Feb. 23, 2017

SSA held a free community screening of the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, which is about the impact of the digital age on children and how to help them minimize harmful effects and find balance. SSA students in grades 6-10 also viewed the film in school. Download the Parent Guide.

Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair - The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age - Nov. 9, 2016

Clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair hosted a presentation and Q&A for parents on how technology and media use by kids and parents impacts childhood development and family relationships. She offered practical strategies for managing technology use and for nourishing attention, creativity, empathy and meaningful relationships. The presentation was made possible through SSA's partnership with WQED's iQ: SmartParent.

Rosetta Lee - Parenting With Identity in Mind - April 5, 2016

Diversity speaker/trainer Rosetta Lee hosted an evening presentation and Q&A for parents after working with SSA's PK-12 faculty during an in-service day. Lee shared research on identity development and discussed how parents can instill positive self-identity in their children and coach them to be positive influences on others' identities. Watch a video of Lee's presentation.

Dr. David Delmonico - Digital Health & Safety - Jan. 23, 2016

Digital safety expert and Duquesne University professor Dr. David Delmonico spoke to Junior and Middle School parents about keeping their kids safe online. Delmonico also spoke to students in grades 3-8 during the school day. Watch Dr. Delmonico's Presentation Download the Parent Handout

Most Likely to Succeed - Documentary Screening - Jan. 4, 2016

SSA hosted a free community screening of the documentary Most Likely to Succeed, which explores the history of education, revealing the growing shortcomings of our school model in todayʼs innovative world. The screening was followed by panel discussion.

Nancy Gruver - Communicating With Your Growing Daughter - Oct. 12, 2015

Author and New Moon Girls Media founder Nancy Gruver hosted a presentation and Q&A for parents about how to talk to your daughter at various life stages about tough subjects such as peer pressure, cliques and self-esteem. Gruver's presentation was made possible through SSA's partnership with WQED's iQ: SmartParent.

Susan Harchelroad - The Effects of Binge Drinking - March 6, 2015

SSA parent Susan Harchelroad, RN, led a presentation and educational discussion with parents about the effects of binge drinking by underage youth. The discussion used a non-judgmental, non-punitive approach to address the medical, social and legal ramifications of binge drinking.

Joel Feldman - Distracted Driving: What Every Parent Should Know - Nov. 18, 2014

Joel Feldman, founder of End Distracted Driving, spoke to parents about how many adults drive distracted, and how we can be better safe driving role models for our kids. Free community presentation. Feldman also spoke to Senior School students at an assembly. Download the Family Safe Driving Agreement.

David Streight - What the Experts Say About Raising Good Kids - Oct. 13, 2014

David Streight, executive director of the Center for Spiritual And Ethical Education, discussed five parenting practices that the last 30 years of research has shown to maximize the chances of raising kids with good moral reasoning skills who are empathic and altruistic. Free community lecture followed by Q&A. Streight also spoke to SSA faculty and staff earlier that day at an in-service program.

Dr. Michael Rich - Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood From a River of Electronic Screens - Sept. 17, 2014

Michael Rich, M.D., M.P.H., a.k.a. "The Mediatrician," spoke about children's media usage and cyber-bullying at an SSA Parents' Association Lunch & Learn. Dr. Rich is the founder and director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston.The presentation was made possible by SSA's partnership with WQED iQ: SmartParent. Watch Dr. Rich's SSA presentation.

Dr. Leonard Sax - Instagram Is Eating My Daughter and My Son Won't Stop Playing Grand Theft Auto - Dec. 2, 2013

Child development expert and author Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., discussed parenting strategies for social media, online behavior and video games. Free community lecture followed by Q&A.

Everything Is Fine - Teen Dating Violence Awareness Play - Oct. 4, 2012

The play Everything Is Fine was presented by Prime Stage Theatre to raise awareness of teen dating violence. Free community performance followed by panel discussion.

Miss Representation - Documentary Screening - March 8, 2012

SSA hosted a free community screening of the documentary film Miss Representation, which explores how the media's misrepresentation of women has led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. The screening was followed by panel discussion.

Race to Nowhere - Documentary Screening - Nov. 4, 2010

SSA hosted a free community screening of the education-focused documentary Race to Nowhere, which explores the high-pressure, high-stakes culture of achievement that pervades the lives of American students and teachers. The screening was followed by panel discussion.

Dr. JoAnn Deak - Aug. 25, 2009

Educator, psychologist and author JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., spoke to SSA parents about child development, learning, identity formation and brain research.

Dr. Robert Brooks - Raising Resilient Children & Adolescents- Aug. 24, 2008

Psychologist and author Robert Brooks, Ph.D., a leading speaker on the themes of resilience, self-esteem, motivation and family relationships, spoke to SSA parents about raising resilient children.


Shady Side Academy is a proud partner of WQED's iQ Smartparent, an Emmy Award-winning program about parenting in the digital age.

CSEE Parent Webinars

As a benefit of Shady Side's membership in the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, SSA parents can access CSEE's Parent Webinars for free by using the SSA-specific link below and setting up an account on the CSEE website.

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