From The Superintendent

Dear Families,

Autumn is here, and by now I trust that you have created a productive and enjoyable school routine. As we find ourselves with most of the academic year stretching before us, I wanted to take a moment to discuss one of our priorities for this year: our district-wide focus on social-emotional learning and development for all students. Our goal is to provide a culture of learning that reflects each student’s needs, interests, abilities and voice for the academic and social-emotional development of the whole child.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) means different things to different people. Some might think it’s just teaching kids to “be nice.” Others see it as “a break from the real subjects.” I believe that the Edgemont community recognizes the importance of our students’ well-being and I know that SEL is neither a simplistic be-nice lesson nor a break; it is, in fact, an on-going critical component to our students’ overall success -- academic and otherwise.

Multiple research studies have shown that evidence-based social-emotional learning can increase academic outcomes among students. There is a plethora of evidence showing that students don’t learn well when negative emotions and social difficulties arise in their lives; I’m sure those of us who have started the day with a family argument or anxiously awaited a phone call from a doctor can relate. Unless students feel safe, understood, and confident, they will not be able to reach their full potential at school.

In order to establish common language and expectations when we talk about SEL, the district has adopted the Social Emotional Learning Competencies created by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). This framework identifies five key components of social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. We have created school and district level teams of teachers, administrators, and students to study these competencies, and to collaborate on how to move ahead with a consistent approach to the teaching of these competencies K-12.

Social emotional learning is not new to Edgemont. We have several programs already in place: Second Step, No Place For Hate, Teen Talk, and multiple curriculum projects across the grades and disciplines which teach perspective-taking and empathy. What is new to us is approaching social emotional learning as an entire Edgemont School system, articulated through the use of common language.

It is not just the job of psychologists and counselors to “fix” students when something isn’t right; it’s the job of our entire community -- teachers, administrators, and parents -- to provide a learning environment where all students can take risks academically and all students can develop their individual needs, interests, abilities and voice. I look forward to a productive, collaborative year ahead, as we work together to ensure the success and well-being of all Edgemont students.


Victoria Kniewel