Berea school board gets social-emotional learning update

BEREA, Ohio – Social-emotional learning in public schools is nothing new, having been a state focus for more than 10 years.

That was one of many messages Berea City Schools Director of Pupil Services Lori Sancin conveyed on Sept. 19 to the Berea Board of Education about the district’s ongoing efforts.

SEL centers on positivity in behavior, emotions and interactions with others, she said. The five core competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

“Everything we do (in the BCSD) is basically focused on those five core competencies … which are the skills everyone needs in order to be successful in the trades, the careers, college or whatever you choose to do in life, and in your professions , after your K-12 education,” Sancin said.

The district uses a three-tier concept when teaching academics and also when evaluating behaviors.

She said PBIS – Positive Behavioral Intervention Support – is Tier 1, which focuses on what all district students need from a conceptual standpoint. That includes expectations about behavior in the classroom, hallways, etc.

“PBIS starts with making sure all of our kids know what those expectations are … because it’s about managing their behaviors and self-awareness of what they’re doing,” Sancin said.

For students needing extra support, Tier 2 involves small groups of instruction, with parental consent and check-ins, she said.

At the Tier 3 level, students may receive a more intense small-group intervention, individual counseling with parental consent or a referral to other community resources.

A new pilot program using universal screening tools DESSA and DAP will get under way soon.

“This has been something our team of school counselors, social workers, school psychologists and administrators has researched, with regional support from the Educational Service Center (of Northeast Ohio),,” Sancin said, emphasizing the importance of “student voice” in the survey results.

Students will bring home information to their parents in advance of administering the surveys.

Parents will be consulted to obtain consent if screening results show their child would benefit from additional intervention.

The screeners will be administered to grades 1, 5 and 9 during the first two weeks of October. That information will be analyzed through the end of October, and interventions will begin in November.

After the pilot is completed this school year, the information collected will guide the district’s next steps.

“I read a quote this past week … that when kids can’t read, we don’t kick them out of school, but when they can’t behave themselves, there are often negative consequences,” board member Heather Zirke said.

“I see this as an opportunity to do something good for kids that need some help self-regulating.”

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