Dear Bainbridge Island School District Community,
Across the country, students’ social and emotional health are hot-button topics. News reports, student surveys and the rise of depression and anxiety in children, all lead to the conclusion that our students need more support to gain the necessary skills to lead an emotionally healthy life.
A large body of research shows that social and emotional health education — such as those that teach self- and social- awareness, self-management, and responsible decision making — are associated with students’ long-term academic and career success. Studies have identified benefits ranging from improved classroom behavior, increased reading and math achievement, higher graduation rates and increased ability to handle stress.
At BISD, we take pride in the learning that happens in our schools. And while Social and Emotional Health (SEH) has always been a part of our teaching, this fall we’re launching a district-wide effort that places SEH at the forefront — and is designed to create a movement in all our schools and across all grade levels. Think of it less as a new curriculum and more of a cultural shift that places importance on building students’ key assets in a supportive way, while mitigating risk factors.
Implementing SEH in our schools will help raise the following assets:
Social Competencies such as peaceful conflict resolution, resistance skills, social advocacy
Emotional Competencies such as sympathy and empathy, grit and perseverance and self-awareness
Positive Values such as integrity, courage and honesty
Positive Identity such as resourceful and a sense of self-worth
Special thanks to Sheryl Belt, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, who has spearheaded this initiative. Sheryl has worked with closely with Bainbridge Island resident Clay Roberts, who is a nationally-recognized educator known for his work creating positive and healthy school environments.
Our great community partners — Healthy Youth Alliance, Raising Resilience and Bainbridge Youth Services — have also provided insight and feedback. We are fortunate to have such a power team leading the charge! And an extra-special thank you goes to Bainbridge Schools Foundation for providing funding for this important movement.
I would like to acknowledge that many BISD staff members already excel at supporting students' SEH, as I've seen countless examples of this positive behavior across the district. We are fortunate to be starting this initiative from a place of strength and I believe with a little more intention, we will move from a good place to a great one.
Recognizing that learning doesn’t end once the school bell rings, BISD is collaborating with local organizations to facilitate parent workshops that will teach parents the same asset-building skills that BISD staff implement. This wrap-around approach will further reinforce the skills and strengthen children’s understanding of how to lead a socially and emotionally healthy life. Look for information on these opportunities as the school year progresses.
As always, if you have any questions about this or other BISD happenings, please feel free to contact me.