Dan Habib | Disabling Segregation

3rd Annual Fireside Chat
On January 19, High Mowing welcomed award-winning documentary film maker Dan Habib for our third annual live-streamed Fireside Chat.

Dan Spoke about intellectual disabilities, and his work documenting the history and legacy of intelligence testing. Based in Concord, NH, Dan is a film director, producer, and cinematographer whose works includes Who Cares About Kelsey?, Including Samuel, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories, and several short documentaries. In 2014 the Obama Administration named Dan a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

When Dan was growing up, disability rights were not “on his radar.” But that changed when his second son, Samuel, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. That diagnosis, and the challenges that followed, launched Dan down a road of research and advocacy. His hope for his son, and the hopes of any parent of a disabled child, was inclusion: to make friends, to play sports, and to be integrated into “normal” classrooms.

“30 years of research shows irrefutably that kids with disabilities who are in regular classes have better outcomes,” Dan said. But for many kids with disabilities, that consensus hasn’t changed anything: “56% of kids with disabilities spend the majority of the day completely segregated from their peers.”

Integrated classrooms are not only better for kids with disabilities. Dan cited research by a Vanderbilt University professor who studied groups of kids preparing for texts and exams. The professor found that mixed groups—groups with disabled and non-disabled students—consistently performed better on tests. Why? Further research found that the act of helping to teach the material to disabled students, and efforts to engage them in the classroom experience, helped the non-disabled students better process and retain the subject matter.

And beyond the academic benefits of integrated classrooms, the social and emotional benefits of being included in the classroom and wider school community has a lasting positive impact on disabled kids.

Watch the video below to learn more about Dan’s work to integrate people with disabilities, and to see clips of his award-winning films.


The Fireside Chat Series has been live streamed by a student team for three years. Led by Digital Arts teacher Jim McClure, the students learn in real-time how to manage a live-streamed event. Every decision—where to position the cameras, how to set up the lighting, and how to cut between cameras during the show—is made by the students.

The student team managed the live stream from the Ann Friedl Room, a classroom adjacent to the Big Room. In the Big Room, three cameras set up around the room, each operated by High Mowing students. Juniors Kirill Bykanov and Kira DiPietrantonio and senior Michael Wu each operated a camera that followed Dan Habib and the audience. Gabe Futterman ’18 directed the live stream, and communicated with the camera operators by microphone. Adi Brezinski ’17 was the Assistant Director. Johan Schlaefereit ’18 was the audio engineer, Toby Edson ’19 was the A/V engineer, and Andrew Jusbache ’19 operated the boom microphone.

The fireside chat was produced by High Mowing School and in cooperation with Betsy’s Folly Studio.
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