District 64 on January 23 launched a new Superintendent Focus Group on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) with 36 members, under the leadership of Dr. Laurie Heinz and Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Lori Lopez.
“We were delighted that the topic of social emotional learning resonated so strongly with parents and community members with 70 who came forward to volunteer, and who clearly share our great interest in this topic and understand its significance,” Dr. Heinz said.
“I can assure you that the decision on how to select participants among such qualified candidates was very difficult,” she added. “But we hope that we’ve assembled a diverse group of parents and community members to represent a balance of D64 stakeholder voices, yet kept the group small enough to facilitate real dialogue and active participation,” Dr. Heinz added.
The 36 members include six who served previously on the Superintendent Community Relations Council: Kathleen Balducci, Ranelle Barsuk, Kim Biederman, Toni Binz, Gregory Bublitz, Angela Burns, Elizabeth Canning Lupo, Michele Casey, Rebecca Clarkin, Robyn Corelitz, Matthew Croke, Megan Fleischel, Christopher Flint, Jeff Flyke*, Steve Godsell, Alicia Green, Sue Henley, Anne Hoffman, Laurie Honza, Dr. Carrie Kamm, Katie Kornely*, Terry Krahl*, Angela Margaris, Annette Miller*, Rachel Nash, Brandy Oomen, Rachel Ossmo, Chris Perry, Jennifer Rothstein, Franco Scimeca*, Paul Sheehan*, Kelly Snow, Gretchen Spreitzer, Karla Steingraber, Carrie Stern, and Katie Wagoner. * previous member of Superintendent Community Relations Council
At the inaugural meeting, focus group members shared what inspired them to serve on the focus group and their hopes for how the group’s work can support and raise awareness of SEL in District 64 among parents and the community.
The group then delved into SEL’s importance as a key initiative this year, as District 64 works to standardize SEL across all schools and introduces a new curricular resource that affects every child in grades K-8. As background, focus group members listened to an overview of the 2020 Vision Strategic Plan’s first three Strategic Objectives and learned how social emotional learning is specifically addressed in Strategic Objective 3: Differentiate to meet the academic and social emotional learning health needs of all students.
Focus group members reflected on the definition of social emotional learning, before conversation turned to the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Social Emotional Learning Standards. The group then began exploring the components of a social emotional learning curriculum, which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision-making to name a few.
“The ending time came too swiftly, and members agreed to take on ‘homework’ before our next meeting to prepare for a deeper look at how SEL instruction is unfolding at each grade level at our schools,” Dr. Heinz reported. “At upcoming meetings, we look forward to having our focus group members inform our thinking about what an SEL parent program might include and how parents and community members can help support this initiative, among other topics they will address,” she added.
The Focus Group will meet again on March 14 and April 30.