Alpine School District board discusses social and emotional learning

October 10, 2018

Social and emotional learning initiatives need to be deliberately implemented into the Alpine School District’s culture, the district’s school board and administrators discussed Tuesday evening.

“We don’t want this to be a lottery system where you just happen to get the teacher who loves you and cares about you,” Superintendent Sam Jarman told the board and administrators Tuesday. “We want this to be a school district where all of the kids experience that in every one of their classes.”

A district subcommittee is looking at pilots of programs in schools and aims to create a screener for students. Results and recommendations will be shared with the Alpine School District Board of Education for future approval and implementation.

The committee was formed at the beginning of the last school year.

The school board and administrators met Tuesday at the district during the board’s study session for a dialogue on social and emotional learning, which focuses on teaching children how to understand and manage their emotions, along with how to set and achieve goals.

“Every child needs to feel safe, every child needs to have a connection, every child needs to be able to build their confidence so they can become that person that they, and in some other cases, their parents hope to become,” Jarman said.

Sara Hacken, a member of the school board, said sometimes, students can become connected with their school through extracurriculars, while Wendy Hart, another member of the board, expressed concerns that extracurriculars could cause separations between children and their families.

Talk centered around how to purposely create a culture of social and emotional learning across the district’s schools and how to ensure teachers reach every student in their classroom.

Kim Jones, the principal of Forbes Elementary School in American Fork, shared with the board how social and emotional learning initiatives can be implemented.

“The ‘how’ is not going to be us purchasing a bunch of extra books, curricula and programs to put on teachers’ already overflowing plates or to squeeze into the daily schedule that is too tight with other subject areas,” Jones said.

Instead, Jones shared examples from Forbes Elementary School where teachers could incorporate social and emotional learning into other lessons. The school also has a “Patriot Pathway” that uses signs around the school and encourages students to show respect, compassion, resilience and self-mastery by entering students into a drawing if they show those qualities. Parents can also email the school when their children demonstrate those qualities at home to have the examples shared with the school.

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