Parent Speakers Series Archive

How to Cultivate Grit from the Comfort of Your Own Home!

How to Cultivate Grit,” is based upon the premise that developing grit and resiliency can help students find success in their lives.  The evening included videos and reflection exercises for adults and students, as well as opportunities to share feedback with our St. Ignatius community.  Families looked at their own mindset towards failure and success and considered ways that it encourages or discourages resiliency and grit.

How it works:

  1. Block out 30 minutes at home
  2. Click here to take and score the Mindset Quiz.  
  3. Watch the following two videos:
  4. Use the following reflection questions to inspire conversation about the topic:  
    • Share a time you experienced success from putting forth a lot of effort.
    • Share a time you stopped trying after experiencing failure.
    • What are the areas in your life where you have more of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset? Consider your Mindset quiz results!
    • How might you develop more of a growth mindset?
    • As a family, what ideas can you come up with to cultivate Grit?
  5. Submit suggestions to the SI community on ways to cultivate Grit and resiliency on our private community message wall.  
  6. Submit participation form

Challenge Success Presents "Sparking Creativity: Imagining Tomorrow's Schools"

Friday, September 25, 2015, Stanford University, Memorial Auditorium

Tony Wagner, Ed.D., Madeline Levine, Ph.D., and Denise Pope, Ph.D. tackle the issue of having a culture that increasingly suggests that success is about numbers—test scores, grades and college acceptance rates while research tells us that children need emotional support, parental supervision, adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, physical and intellectual challenges, resilience, and time to reflect, play, and plan. Parents need tools to help raise kids who will be happy, healthy, meaningful contributors to the world around them. Come hear these speakers present university-based research translated into practical, everyday strategies that they can use to help guide their parenting behavior and raise kids who will thrive.

Click here for more information.

Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW

Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Protecting and Supporting our LGBT Children in the Context of Our Faith

Wednesday March 4, 2015

"All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual identity helps to define the unique persons we are, and one component of our sexual identity is sexual orientation. Thus, our total personhood is more encompassing than sexual orientation. Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart…”– Always our Children 

Given our theme of “being for and with others”, we are called to clearly convey God’s love and support for all members of our community. It is our hope that all students will grow to feel accepted within the community of St. Ignatius College Preparatory. At times, sexual orientation can be a confusing topic to address within the Catholic Church. We are reminded of the Bishop’s statement Always our Children. As we endeavor to increase the health and wellness of all those in the SI community, we invite all parents to attend an evening with Dr. Caitlin Ryan as we explore the impact of familial support on the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents in our community.

Dr. Ryan’s work with the Family Acceptance Project indicates the compelling impact that families, parents, foster parents, caregivers and guardians can have on their LGBT children. Research shows that LGBT youth are at a greater risk for substance use, depression, and suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Dr. Ryan and her team have found that family acceptance promotes well-being and helps protect LGBT young people against such risk. Conversely, they found that family rejection contributes to increased risk for health and mental health problems, including suicidal behavior. Based on their research Dr. Ryan and her team have developed a family-centered approach to strengthen and help diverse families to support their LGBT children. As the SI family, we want our community to be a source of strength and acceptance for all our students. This evening will provide our families with the best research and resources to ensure greater health and wellness for all.

More information on the research and services provided by The Family Acceptance Project can be found here.

To learn more about Dr. Ryan, please visit

Click here to access The Family Acceptance Project’s Guidelines for Best Practice Supportive Families, Healthy Children.

Dr. Shakti Butler

Cracking the Codes: The System of Inequity

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dr. Shakti Butler of World Trust Educational Services led us through a screening of her ground-breaking film, Cracking the Codes: The System of Inequity and engage us in a facilitated dialogue.

Dr. Butler's acclaimed film is a thoughtful, informative and powerful account of how stereotypes, fear, and systemic oppressions impact us all. Cracking the Codes deftly discusses a touchy topic in a manner that asks us all to move past the "blame, shame and guilt" narrative, and to seek collaborative solutions. Through compelling storytelling and interviews with Peggy McIntosh, Joy Degruy, Tim Wise and others, Cracking the Codes deconstructs the interpersonal, institutional, and internal components of structural oppression in a compassionate language we can relate to and understand. Click here to read a thorough review of the documentary.

Shakti Butler, PhD, the President and Founder of World Trust Educational Services, is an inspirational facilitator, trainer, and lecturer.  Dr. Butler is the producer and director of acclaimed, groundbreaking documentaries including The Way Home, Mirrors of Privilege, and her latest film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity. This film uses a critical mass of stories to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity. See clips of her films here.

Dr. Butler received her doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in the School of Transformative Learning and Change. She holds an MA in Guidance and Counseling from Bank Street College of New York and graduated magna cum laude from City College of New York.  Click here for a more complete bio of Dr. Butler.

"The Hard Stuff: How to be Mindful When Talking with Teens about Sensitive Topics"

Wednesday, February 19

The below panel of adolescent specialists provided tools and strategies for talking mindfully with your teens about the following topics: sex and sexuality; alcohol and substance use and abuse; digital life; and body based disturbances (eating disorders and self-injurious behaviors). 

A large portion of the evening was dedicated to a Q&A session with our guests.  

Click here to view the video recording of the event.

Guest Speakers

John Elia on the topic of Sexual Health and Sexuality. An SI parent and Professor at SFSU, you can learn more about John's work here 

Jacquie Ward on the topic of body based disturbances in adolescence (incl. self injury and eating disorders). Jacquie is a Clinical Psychologist treating adolescents, young adults, and their families in San Francisco. 

Jennifer Golick on the topic of teen substance use and abuse. Jennifer is the Clinical Director with Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services. Learn more about Jennifer here 

Holly Pedersen on the topic of the digital life of teenagers (including use/abuse of internet, online safety, digital citizenship, cyberbullying, and the impact of internet on social/emotional development). Holly leads the Bullying Prevention Program at Parents Place on the Peninsula (learn more about Parents Place here and also works as a clinician in private practice (

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brainstorm: Discovering the Hidden Power & Purpose of the Adolescent Mind

In this presentation we will explore the nature of the changes in the teenage brain and how they set the stage for changes in adolescent mental, physical, and interpersonal well-being.  We will explore the increased risk-taking and statistically demonstrated heightened chances of harm during this period of life.  But these negative aspects of adolescence are only one side of the coin of this period of life.  Seen from an inside view, adolescence is an essential part of our development and our evolution.  This "inside out approach" to the second dozen years of life gives us an exciting new perspective on the essence of adolescence:  Emotional intensity, social engagement, novelty-seeking, and creative explorations are not aspects of an "immature" stage of development but actually can be seen as a necessary set of characteristics that are essential for both the individual's development and for the health and adaptation of our species.  Further, these features of the teenage brain set the stage for changes that not only shape our life as adolescents, but can surprisingly be seen as essential to thriving in adulthood. How we approach adolescence as a period and adolescents as individuals can make all the difference in how these important years are navigated well.

When adults and adolescents learn to see the mind clearly - a process called mindsight - they are better able to see from the other person's perspective. Part of mindsight's power is that it allows individuals to reflect on the inner nature of their own experience in a way that promotes insight, empathy, and compassion. In these ways, mindsight helps strengthen the communication across the generations.

To learn more about Dr. Siegel, please click here.

To learn more about Dr. Siegel's publications, clinical research, and available workshops, please click here.

Video of Dr. Siegel's presentation

Mindful Mornings with Farshid Farrahi, MD

October 25th, 2013
November 1st, 2013

Farshid Farrahi, M.D. is a Therapist and Board-Certified General Psychiatrist. His training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UCSF, has provided him an in-depth understanding of adults, adolescents, children, and family systems. Equipped with tools ranging from Mindfulness-Centered approaches and Psychodynamic therapy to Western and complementary/Integrative psychopharmacology, his practice focuses on facilitating growth and well-being.

Please join us as Dr. Farrahi leads an experiential exploration of Mindfulness. During this morning workshop, parents will have the chance to explore Mindfulness as a key ingredient in Psychological well-being. Dr. Farrahi will discuss the benefits of Mindfulness, how it can impact teen-parent relationships, and perhaps most importantly, guide participants in direct experiences of Mindfulness. This workshop serves as a complement to Dr. Siegel's presentation on Mindsight, or as an initial exposure to mindful concepts--no previous experience is necessary.

Jason Brand, LCSW

The Connected Teen: A Road Map for Parenting Your Digital Teen

Parents get tired of playing catch-up with their digital teens. Just when a parent learns what to do with a text, tweet, raid, post or chat their teen has moved onto the next big digital trend. With each new technology comes a set of pros and cons for family life and an impact on social, emotional and physiological well being. Families need to be in a position to work together to thoughtfully integrate new technologies into everyday life. This workshop helped parents get out of the position of feeling angry and overwhelmed about being left in the digital dust and allowed them to be more effective in providing their teen with guidance and support. It put parents in a position to parent from the heart of digital matters where safety, trust, awareness and respect have a place alongside new technologies.

Jason Brand is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Bay Area Psychotherapist.  He provides support to families in a rapidly changing world where digital technologies are transforming our lives.  His work takes place in schools and with organizations where he leads workshops about safety, trust, awareness and respect in the digital age. It also takes place in his office where, as a psychotherapist, he sees families with children and adolescents.  His forthcoming book, "1 to 1 at Home: A Parent's Guide to School-Issued Laptops and Tablets" will be published by the International Society of Technology and Education in 2013.

Vicki Abeles

Vicki AbelesParents joined us for a round table discussion with Vicki Abeles on Thursday, November 15th. Vicki addressed the overwhelming pressures our students currently face to succeed academically and co-curricularly. She highlighted various ways in which parents can support student achievement while accepting failure and managing disappointment, and how we might adjust our expectations, encouraging students to live healthier, happier, more balanced lives.

Vicki Abeles is a filmmaker, speaker, and advocate for children and families. She is the director of the acclaimed documentary, Race to Nowhere, a film that has ignited a movement to reinvent education and reclaim healthy childhood. Abeles launched, a social action campaign committed to providing resources and tools to support awareness, dialogue and community action connected to the issues raised by the film. Abeles, a former Wall Street attorney, is also to co-author of the End the Race Action Guide for parents, educators and students. She is currently working on her next film and book. She is a mother of three and lives in the SF Bay Area.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg

Authentic Success: Raising Children and Adolescents who are Prepared to Thrive in a Challenging World  (90 minutes)

Dr. Ginsburg discussed how to foster high achievement in children while instilling a love of learning, rather than a fear of failure. We must never forget that our goal in raising children is to prepare them to be happy and productive adults. Academic performance, while important, is only one measure of success. Children need the emotional and social intelligence to thrive in the home and workplace. They need to maintain and develop their creativity and innovative potential as well as their internal resilience. Children who are pushed too hard do not discover their gift and are driven to perfectionism. Perfectionists do not find themselves acceptable and don’t experience the joy associated with high performance, and in fact stifle their own creativity. Dr. Ginsberg discussed the college admissions process, the importance of guiding each child to find the right educational match, and how to raise successful children who will make their unique and substantial contributions to the world.

Read more about Dr. Ginsburg

Video of Dr. Ginsburg's Presentation