DEBERT – Increasing a “safer and orderly environment” in schools is one of the goals Chignecto-Central Regional School Board officials are working towards.
On Wednesday night in Debert, board officials discussed at length the social and
emotional learning (SEL) strategy CCRSB is working on.
Director of education services Scott Milner described the practice as a way to “respect and embrace differences instead of just tolerating them.”
SEL is a systematic development of a core set of social and emotional skills that help children more effectively handle life challenges and thrive in both their learning and social environments. Some highlights include encouraging students’ self-awareness, relationships, self-management and social awareness, dealing with conflicts effectively and making decisions responsibly.
Milner said when social and emotional aspects are active aspects of students’ learning they improve academic performance, reduce risky behavior and
increase brain development, to name a few. He provided a few statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicating social and emotional well-being affect overall health. For example, according to a 2009/2010 WHO report, between 19 and 38 per cent of students reported feeling depressed or low more than once a week and more than 20 per cent of boys and about 30 per cent of girls in all grades often wished they were someone else.
The board is working on a strategic SEL plan for schools and 19 CCRSB schools are part of a related pilot project, including Truro, Brookfield, Upper Stewiacke, Hilden elementary schools, Harmony Heights, Cobequid Educational Centre, South Colchester Academy, Truro junior high and Winding River Consolidated in Stewiacke.
According to Frank Lambert, the board’s consultant on school climate and safety, a review of code of conduct has begun, and there will be provincial networking and a board leadership team is being formed.
Milner told the Truro Daily News there are other ways students and parents can actively get involved at this point. Students who have ideas pertinent to social and emotional learning can apply to the board for up to $500 to help with costs associated with related social and emotional learning initiatives.
“We want to help mobilize students,” said Milner, adding there’s a budget of $500 a year for each of the 75 schools in CCRSB.
Parents are also encouraged to keep informed of what’s happening through school communication, newsletters and interaction with staff.