Funding for SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) comes in many shapes and sizes, but perhaps one of the most heartwarming stories we’ve heard emerges from the uniquely dedicated Sheriff’s Department and its county school system in suburban Atlanta, GA.
At this year’s TCEA conference, we met with the editors for eSchoolnews, who invited Principal Barbara Vella to share her school’s experience using the 7 Mindsets for social-emotional learning. She wrote back that when looking to fund a social-emotional learning program, her district looked to the community and worked with the local Sheriff’s department on a partnership to provide funding.
After making the front page with eSchoolnews, the article became a national buzz and was “picked up” by other outlets.
Here’s the story:
How a sheriff’s department and a school teamed up for SEL
An Atlanta principal shares her experience implementing a social-emotional learning curriculum with the help of community partners.
School has always been a place for learning math, science, history, and art, but now it’s also becoming the place for students to learn other skills that are crucial to their future success and happiness, no matter where they end up. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is not about grades, but about teaching students to solve their own problems, take pride in their efforts, and develop strong relationships within their community.
I am the principal of Chattahoochee Elementary School in Cumming, GA. When our district began the push towards SEL, each school chose a program to support it based on their needs and budget. At Chattahoochee, we chose 7 Mindsets, because it best aligns with our school’s goal to raise respectful, responsible problem-solvers.
Because the families in this area have very limited disposable income, fundraising in the community wasn’t an option, so Debbie Smith, the director of Student Support Services for Forsyth County Schools, asked our local Sheriff’s Department for help funding the program.
The department purchased the program for our district’s Northern Cluster: four elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The Sheriff’s Department ended up using funds from assets confiscated in local drug busts. It was a powerful thing to see that money, which was a result of something harmful to the community, being funneled back into that community for a program that will benefit it.
Changing Students’ and Teachers’ Mindsets
During the first year, our implementation was modeled after what another Forsyth County elementary school, Mashburn Elementary, had done. At Mashburn, they…