Teachers, parents and administrators recently came together as part of Focus203, School District 203’s new initiative for community engagement.

The two forums came together as a result of the District’s nine-month Future Focus Project, which sought to shape the course of the district’s goals going forward. Besides addressing learning initiatives, it also brought to light a growing concern of parents to help their students manage stress and find balance in their lives.

So, at Focus203, two presenters educated the group on social and emotional learning (SEL).

These are the processes through which children and young adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

“We have seen an increase in anxiety and mental health disorders in students, we have seen an increase in their overall ability to handle stressors, and being able to cope with everyday stressors,” said Rachel Weiss, Supervisor of Social Work Services, District 203. “So the importance for SEL is really helping students learn those skills and strategies, so they can deal with just everyday stressors and some of the more intense situations that might come up in life.”

Each table then had time to discuss the principles they learned about and how they can effectively help students continue to grow and deal with problems in a healthy manner.

“This is a we issue, working together. It doesn’t just take the school, just home, it doesn’t just take the community,” said Amy Barth, Social Worker in District 203. “We really have to work together to do it. So this is exciting to have everyone around to do that.”

SEL can already be seen in anti-bullying programs and stress management programs across the district.

Now, District 203 hopes to incorporate the principles of SEL into the curriculum so students are encountering life lessons everyday.


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