Spindrift, The Country School's first-ever TEDx conference was also the first-ever PreSchool-8th Grade, youth-organized TEDx event in New England. Marina Sachs '07 was the coordinator of this year-long initiative, which culminated in a TEDx conference featuring inspiring speakers of all ages and fun, hands-on activities (photos here).
Speakers included the following:
Sophia Harvey, Producer and Filmmaker. Sophia, a 2007 Country School graduate, is a writer, producer, and filmmaker based in NYC. By day, she works as the Manager of Creative Production at GKIDS, an internationally acclaimed art house distribution company that has 8 Academy Award nominations in the Animated Feature category. She also works on her own projects. "Yellow Heart," Sophia's latest film, premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May. Sophia's talk is about the upside of rejection and the trials of being a middle schooler.
David Ryan Polgar, Tech Ethicist. David is a respected tech commentator whose ideas and thoughts concerning cyber ethics, business trends, and humanizing our online experience have been featured in The Boston Globe, Financial Times, Sydney Morning Herald, SirusXM, US News & World Report, Forbes, HuffPost Live, CNN.com, Inc.com, and more. Last year he co-founded the Digital Citizenship Summit, a global network of summits focused on the safe, savvy, and ethical use of social media/technology.
Fourth Grade Poets, Poetry for Social Justice. Students from The Country School's 4th Grade shared their original work. Their impetus comes from a study of identity and belonging, and their overarching message is one of social justice and activism.
Geordann Daguplo, Singer-Songwriter. Geordann is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter based in West Haven, CT. His talk, interspersed with musical interludes, was about the importance of expressing feelings. When asked why he loves what he does, Geordann replied, "I love to capture the moment of where I am in my life and what inspires me at the time. Music can transcend any barrier, and is a universal language we can all feel.”
Katie Davis, Author and Entrepreneur. Katie is the author of picture books and middle grade and young adult novels. Her How to Promote Your Children's Bookbecame a #1 Amazon bestseller. Katie’s secret superpower is teaching tech- and marketing-phobic writers, so she created courses such as Video Idiot Boot Camp, How to Create Your Author Platform, and Launch Your Book Blueprint. She also co-created the first online conference of its kind, Picture Book Summit. Katie’s spoken at a maximum security prison, to students around the world in pre-k through college, including UCONN and Yale, and has keynoted conferences and fundraising galas. Recently Katie and her husband, Jerry Davis (Country School Class of 1974 and a film producer), took over the 47-year-old Institute of Children’s Literature, where over 404,000 people have taken college-level courses learning to write for both children and adults.
Kolton Harris, Artist and Performer. In his talk, Flying in Place, Kolton shared a perfectly woven story that combined personal narrative and academic inquiry. Much more than a critical examination of the formation and role of Black Superheroes in American Comic Books, Kolton's talk challenged his audience with questions about identity and belonging, leaving us empowered to build ourselves into our own superheroes. Kolton, a speaker, artist, and performer from Groton, typically focuses attention on work that expresses the struggle of the modern black man, white privilege, and popular culture.
Matthew J Dicks, Novelist and Storyteller. Matthew is the internationally bestselling author of the novelsMemoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His books have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musicals Caught in the Middle and Sticks & Stones. He is the co-host of Boy Vs. Girl, a podcast about gender and gender stereotypes. Matthew is a 20-time Moth StorySLAM and three-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on the nationally syndicated The Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He is also an elementary school teacher who iwas named West Hartford Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
Vidita Shah, Student Activist. Vidita is a 7th Grade student at Clark Lane Middle School in Waterford. She plays violin and piano, and draws inspiration from J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. She is interested in issues surrounding prejudice, identity, and the powerful role young people as advocates for social justice.