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Documentary Screenings & Discussions:

Raising Awareness in the School Community

On November 4, 2010, I moderated a screening of  Race to Nowhere, The Dark Side of America's Achevement Culture by Vicki Abeles at Mount Elementary School. This documentary focused on the high pressure that students experience as part of the culture. We have seen that this level of stress and anxiety has led students to commit suicide when the drive to be perfect becomes too great. The movie sparked an important conversation among parents, teachers, university professors, and concerned citizens in our school community about how we can help our students negotiate the multiple demands on their time and how we, as a community, can deliver the message that we value their well-being  as our number one priority.  

Click image to see movie trailer

On october 22, 2015, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion at Stony Brook University for Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation at the 22nd Annual Conference of the Council for Prejudice Reduction at Stony Brook University.  After focusing on the impact of excessive demands that students are experiencing in Race to Nowhere, this movie by Vicki Abeles captures positive, encouraging, and inspiring changes in schools.

I hosted this movie on November 17, 2015 at Setauket School. The conversation that followed focused on the many ways in which our schools were providing similar opportunities for our students from elementary grades through high school. Parents in attendance felt that our schools had implemented many positive innovations that allowed our students to thrive.


Click image to see movie trailer

"Last night's panel discussion was wonderful! The movie was so informative and inspiring. I left feeling like there was important work to do, but at the same time, I left feeling completely ready to tackle the road ahead.

It was wonderful to listen to Amy Huang... So nice to see the amazing young woman she has become!

As always, thanks for the inspiration."

Gretchen Tranchino

STEM Teacher

W. S. Mount Elementary School

Scheduled for March 1, 2016 at Setauket School, this documentary was brought to my attention by a parent after we had begun coding as part of our new STEM program in the elementary schools. In Codegirl, filmaker Lesley Chilcott shares the story of high school girls from 60 countries as they compete for $10,000 in the Technovation Challenge. I assembled a panel of distinguished guests to share their thoughts and expertise about women in science, technology, engineering & math. The panel includes: 

  •   Amy Huang, WMHS  junior in the InSTAR program and resident coder

  •  Dr. Marnie Kula, WMHS Science Department Chair &  InSTAR® Science Research Director

  • Dr. Angela Kelly, CESAME, Stony Brook University Associate Director of Science Education/ Asst. Professor of Physics & Astronomy

  • Melora Lofretto, Executive Director/Co-Founder of kidOYO &

  • Neela M. Lockel, LMSWA-MPA, Executive Director of Girls Inc Long Island, UWLI

  • Jaquelyn Sheehan, Coordinator, Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Stony Brook University


"Code Girl was an awesome did great with it.  So glad to be working with you and to have your support with all we are doing! Thanks again! "

Gina Varacchi

STEM Teacher

Setauket Elementary

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