Sep 19, 2019 | By: Malaak Khattab

Golden Apple: Gene Dillon Elementary School Introduces Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

A two-step program that focuses on social emotional learning is making its way to Gene Dillon Elementary in Bemidji. The aim of the Second Step curriculum is to help teach kids to grow academically and socially. Students will be learning different skills in the classroom each week.

“The three main topics that we are going to be talking about, the three main units are empathy – which we will be starting next week, and then we will be looking at problem-solving, and how we can manage our emotions,” said Amy Riley, school counselor for Gene Dillon.

The new lesson plan is a collaborative effort by the school’s counselor, social worker, and the school’s psychologist. The trio dub themselves as the C.A.R.E. Crew, and they’re teaming together in an effort to do preventive work in the school.

“The C.A.R.E. Crew stands for ‘creating awareness and relationships in education.’ And so, we are working together just to teach not only just these skills, but also to work with kiddos and groups that are needing some extra support,” Riley said.

The school counselor says the hope is that the program will help create a more caring environment. There will be a rewarding system every time a student is following the lesson and is seen helping other students.

“Teachers are going to be having a lesson, again, like I said, every Wednesday. Also, kiddos will be going home with lessons, and the parents will get to see what they’ve done in the classroom, what they’ve learned about empathy, and then they’ll be asked to practice those skills at home and come back with a little bit of homework,” Riley said.

Each student will receive a paper slip with a new lesson every Wednesday. They’re also encouraged to dream big and that’s exactly what this hopes and dream wall is a reminder of.

“We are so much about promoting character and I think this is tied right along with character because it’s character traits that can help you realize, number one, is have hopes and have dreams, because that’s what gets you up from bed in the morning and moves you forward,” said Jeffrey Wade, Gene Dillon Elementary School 5th grade teacher.

The display has memorabilia from past students from the Bemidji Area School District who’ve become successful.

“We can talk about these folks to the kids, and we can say, ‘he,y I remember these kids, I remember these folks. This is what they’re doing now, this is what they’re doing in the community to give back to the community.’ And I think this is just one way again of attaching goals,” Wade said.

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