by Valentina Rodriguez, MD.
School Therapist at Christina Seix Academy, Trenton, NJ
This summer I was able to participate in the Institute for Social and Emotional learning (IFSEL) hosted by Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ. At the Institute, I was able to completely immerse myself in a unique 4-day, hands-on, interactive and innovative experience to expand my knowledge and best practices around SEL.
I would like to acknowledge that my experience at the Institute was very positive and inspiring. I was able to meet a variety of educators from all over the US and the world. I was able to learn a lot from everyone I met and I connected with other schools who are at various levels in their SEL journey. A highlight for me was that self-care was promoted through the Institute. It seemed to be intentionally designed for the adults to model the importance of tapping into our emotions to acknowledge how we are feeling and what it means to best support the emotional growth of our students. This was a huge deal not only to me but to our students and school community. This is why…
I am the current school counselor at Christina Seix Academy, a nonprofit, nontraditional, junior boarding, independent school. CSA focuses on serving students from single-parent households. The majority of our students are from Trenton and surrounding underprivileged areas. CSA’s founder, Ms. Christina Seix, had the vision to create an outstanding and holistic education experience for all CSA students and their families. This gives them an opportunity to transition “from potential to achievement”. Her generosity expands to offering a full scholarship to each individual CSA student to not only be able to benefit from the top of the line academic and athletic programs but also to experience boarding school Mon-Fri.
In addition, CSA is opened all year around for an extended day experience. Due to the very intentional level of engagement and the relational work that is promoted on a daily basis, the possibilities for Social and Emotional Learning to happen are endless. Learning about IFSEL has opened the door to cutting edge and research-based best practices to implement a solid SEL program a CSA that will help our students build upon their SEL literacy, self-awareness, resilience, and social interactions. I am very excited to start the 2019-2020 school year strong by collaborating with teachers and administrators to ensure that SEL is embedded in our school community and culture!