New ED TALK Series for Middle School Students at Hawthorne School

The school day hasn’t even started yet - but already, Hawthorne middle school students are gathering in the library. What would actually bring 6th, 7th and 8th graders to school - early? It’s a new program this school year called ED TALK’s, and today’s presenter is Lena George.

“Were you ever taught how to feel good?” asks George, a meditation teacher, holistic nutritionist and certified hypnotherapist, “In order to be successful and to help other people, you first need to feel good yourself!”

Students, and a few parents in the audience, nod in agreement from their seats around the library.

“How do you deal with stress?” George asks the group.

“I make lists,” offers one student, “Listen to music!” “Read a book.” “Watch Netflix.” “Punch something!” other students chime in.

“Stress creates an alarm in your body,” says George, “How do you turn off that alarm? Your brain is your remote control – learn how to use it! When you’re able to switch that channel, everything changes.”

Hawthorne’s ED TALK’s for middle school students are the brainchild of parent Justin Leigh. Building off the success of TED Talks for adults, Leigh is hoping short form, powerful conversations with kids can be just as effective.

“ED TALK’s are designed to inspire our kids – to cause them to think and help them maintain a positive outlook on life,” says Leigh, “It’s giving them tools that go beyond their school curriculum.”

Lena George’s ED TALK is the second at Hawthorne this school year. The first ED TALK in September featured Dr. Roz Banafshaan, and drew a crowd of students and parents alike to the Hawthorne library.

Leigh says the talks are designed to cover topics that matter most to middle school students. The goal he says, is to inspire kids, cause them to think, and help them maintain a positive outlook on life. He hopes to one day expand the program to the rest of school district.

“The ED in ED TALKS is not just about education, it also stands for Emotional Development,” says Leigh, “Social-emotional learning is so important. This is about giving students tools beyond what they’re learning in the regular curriculum.”

“I hope the kids here today leave knowing how to practice the emotion of hope,” says George, ”I want these kids to feel like they have a choice over what’s going on in their body and brain.”

 PICTURED: Hawthorne 6th, 7th and 8th grade students participate in an ED TALK with meditation instructor and certified hypnotherapist Lena George.

PICTURED: ED TALKS creator and Hawthorne parent Justin Leigh, his 1st grade son Maxwell Jaxson Leigh, presenter Lena George and 7th grade Hawthorne student Gabriel Fimbres.