LaPorte Community School Corporation is expanding its focus to wrap around the whole child by adding a Social-Emotional Learning program.
Sarah Fine, former LPCSC attendance officer and licensed social worker, has been named Director of Social Emotional Learning for the district.
According to Fine, Social Emotional Learning develops the self-control, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills that are essential for success. SEL blends together the knowledge and practice of psychology, neuroscience, and neuroeducation. It creates a focused approach for addressing social competences that students need in order to be successful in the classroom, workplace, and society. These employability skills are intermixed throughout the K-12 educational spectrum and defined by the Indiana Department of Education as sensory education, insight, self-regulation, collaboration, connection, critical thinking, and mindset.
SEL began as a pilot through the elementary schools last year. The elementary schools’ principals and school counselors played an essential role in introducing the idea of SEL to the students. Their school counselors started providing weekly lessons on SEL skill development through Second STEPS, a nationally recognized evidence based SEL curriculum for grades K-8. Second STEPS will include all grades through middle school this year. For freshmen and sophomores, students will be introduced to Botvin’s Life Skills Training curriculum. Botvin’s Life Skills is a nationally recognized evidence-based drug prevention and social skill building curriculum.
The SEL team involves the LPCSC administration, teachers, and all of the support staff at the schools, as well as parents, students, and the community. SEL is supported through funding and human resources by many local and state entities such as the Lilly Foundation, Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte, and LaPorte business community.
The Family Resource Services staff has expanded to include, Mario Rosa, FRS District Coordinator; Austyn Kelso, FRS social worker for grades five through eight; Michelle Dickman, FRS Parent Engagement Specialist for grades five through eight; Noelle Bayer, FRS/Prevention Data Specialist; and Fine, District coordinator of SEL and Prevention. Also working closely with the team are Jen Hunt, LPCSC Director of Career Readiness, VLA, and coordinator of the Lilly Grant; Mark Francesoni, superintendent; Steve Mannering and Jane Larson, assistant superintendents.
The goals of SEL are to help all LPCSC students and parents understand SEL’s important role in helping students be better prepared to learn and to introduce the skill sets needed to achieve them. SEL helps to emphasize the importance of social-emotional skill sets along with drug prevention. It helps create a resource tool that educators can utilize in SEL, drug prevention, and employability in the classroom.
“I am thrilled about the potential SEL holds for all of our students and working with the amazing dedicated staff of LPCSC, as well as, parents and community partners as we embark together on this exciting journey,” Fine said.