While academic performance and cognitive skills are essential components of a child’s education, we believe that the most important factor in determining a child’s future success, and, more importantly, his or her future happiness and fulfillment, is social and emotional intelligence. Social and emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In a 1998 article in the Harvard Business Review, author Daniel Goleman said “…emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.” (Goleman, Richard (1998). What Makes a Leader, Harvard Business Review.)
St. Brendan School was an early adopter of a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum. Even before we developed our formal SEL curriculum, our faculty were trained to pay attention to their students’ inner lives and to help students understand themselves. The core values we strive to encourage are humility (as opposed to entitlement), empathy for others, and listening skills.
Our Social and Emotional Learning program is guided by our student counselor, Dr. Laura Nusbaum. In addition to leading the SEL curriculum, Dr. Nusbaum mediates issues between children at all grade levels, facilitates conflict management, and provides one-on-one counseling for children as needed.
Our SEL curriculum includes a number of specially-developed programs:
Second Step. This program, taught to students in grades kindergarten through five, includes lessons from four categories: Skills for Learning, Empathy, Emotion Management, and Problem Solving. Children are encouraged to integrate social justice and morally correct behavior into their daily lives. A social and emotional program has been developed for the middle school students to allow for small group discussion. A drug education component has been added for our eighth graders and their parents.
St. Brendan Peacemakers. Our Student Peacemaker program empowers select fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students with conflict resolution skills, which they then impart to our younger children during recess hours. Our Peacemakers serve as mentors and role models for younger students, and their activities enhance the Social and Emotional Learning curriculum with a spirit of community and collaboration.