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Devereux Center for Effective Schools helps implement social-emotional learning in Pennsylvania schools

The Devereux Center for Effective Schools (CES) is partnering with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in southeastern Pennsylvania to promote social and emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom.

CES is working with HHS to provide training, coaching and technical assistance to teachers and other school professionals in Montgomery County school districts as they implement the following SEL curricula and evidence-based classroom management practices:

  • Second Step curriculum: Students learn how to build empathy; manage their emotions more effectively; and acquire friendship and problem-solving skills.
  • Too Good for Drugs curriculum: Students learn how to make healthy choices; build positive relationships; develop self-efficacy; communicate effectively; and resist peer pressure and influence.
  • Classroom management practices: Educators learn how to utilize effective classroom management practices, such as offering positive greetings at the door; setting behavioral expectations; prompting students to respond correctly; establishing classroom routines; and providing lesson agendas.

“We are excited to partner with HHS to help students acquire the social and emotional skills needed to thrive,” said Devereux Center for Effective Schools Assistant Director Lisa Thomas, Ph.D., NCSP. “Our goal at CES is to improve services for children with, and at risk for developing, emotional and behavioral disorders. This project has allowed us to achieve our goal by supporting the implementation of proactive, evidence-based practices for thousands of students.”

Measuring social-emotional skills

Since implementing the Second Step curriculum in Montgomery County school districts, Thomas says CES and HHS have seen a significant improvement in students’ social and emotional competence.

HHS reports that during the 2019-2020 school year, 6,452 K-5 students in 41 schools in 16 school districts received Second Step lessons. CES staff measured students’ social and emotional skills – before and after completing the curriculum – using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)-mini, a flagship products of Aperture Education that was originally developed by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children.

“This curriculum is having a huge impact on students, setting them up for social and emotional success now – and in the years to come,” Thomas explained. “Youth learn valuable life and social skills, including how to solve problems, resolve conflicts and feel and show empathy for others. Because of the positive results we are seeing in kindergarten through fifth grades, our goal is to implement Second Step in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and help even more children in Montgomery County schools.”

Learn more about the Devereux Center for Effective Schools, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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