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Schools encourage empathy and acts of kindness on Social Emotional Learning Day

Social Emotional Learning aims to improve students' academics, problem-solving skills, and manage emotional distress during the pandemic.
Credit: WPMT

YORK, Pa. — In 2020, Governor Tom Wolf declared the last Friday in March as Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Day. 

In an effort to simplify the concepts of SEL for younger students, the staff at Valley View Elementary School in the York Suburban School District redesigned how the subject is approached. 

Dr. Todd Monos, principal, and Mrs. Jackie James, guidance counselor, engaged with second-grade students through a candid, recorded discussion that was shown to the building’s 304 elementary students. The video helped to initiate teacher-moderated dialogue in each classroom. 

By breaking down the SEL terminology into more relatable phrases and encouraging casual conversations, Dr. Monos hopes to encourage students to empower one another.

“Social-emotional learning is an absolute necessity, especially in today’s climate. I believe that this video is an important first step toward normalizing it for our most impressionable learners,” he said.

Students at Valley View learn to control their feelings by using the 4 Bee Rules: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be a Worker and Be a Friend. 

Adrien Mojica, a 2nd grader at Valley View, used this rule to help a classmate who was struggling with his homework. 

"He didn’t get very good grades on his homework and I said it's okay to make mistakes because then you can improve from the mistakes," Adrien said.

The lesson on SEL Day is about helping students build up their social skills and manage their emotions during this unprecedented school year in a pandemic.

"They have been absolutely amazing. I think the children actually probably adjusted a little better than the adults did, but they were wonderful with it," said Mrs. James. "We never had any concerns and we talked about how can we see a smile when we can’t see the mouth behind the mask, but we talk about the eyes, the eyebrows and body language. That’s been very important, too."

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