Social Emotional Learning begins in district


Photo used with permission of HSE Schools.

The mood meter, a resource used for determining how an individual feels, was introduced during SMaRT period classes this semester. The tool was developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER Program.

Ben Rosen, Reporter

Social Emotional Learning, or Social Emotional Equity Learning, also known as S.E.L. and S.E.E.L., has been a constant activity during SMaRT period this year. According to assistant principal Chrissie Sturgill, S.E.E.L was created from survey results that were taken shortly before the implementation of e-Learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This work started back in 2016 as the district completed a needs assessment around student support and needs,” HSE Schools Mental Health Coordinator Brooke Lawson said. “One of the identified needs was that although the district prepares students well academically for their futures we were lacking in programming that supports all students emotionally and socially for their futures.” 

Lawson said that last year the program was put in place for K-8 students with high school administrators observing the program, as well as thinking about how it could work at the high school level.

The team made recommendations that we add another SMaRT period in order to spend time teaching this content,” Lawson said. “Then a team of teachers from both high schools spent the summer (and currently) creating lesson plans for the SEEL curriculum.” 

Students, like sophomore Thomas Chaplain, tend to think that the curriculum is helpful for SMaRT period. 

“I think it’s a more engaging alternative to SMaRT period that makes it more than a rest period,” Chaplain said. “But I also feel like some of the mental health stuff is more so pandering then actually intended to improve student mental health.” 

According to Sturgill, the new S.E.E.L. extension will take place during 5th period classes during phase two of the reopening plan. This adjustment was made in order to reduce how many times students change classes. 

As the team was planning this summer we knew that returning to school after being away for 6 months that it would be important to spend time re-building relationships and trust with students, as well as talk about how to manage the difficult emotions that surround living through a global pandemic, the ongoing mobilization against police violence, and systemic racism.  That is where the first couple of days lessons came from,” Lawson said.

Lawson recommended this video to help explain the new curriculum more.