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Devereux Center for Effective Schools awarded $60,000 grant to implement SEL program in PA schools

The Devereux Center for Effective Schools (CES) was recently awarded a $60,000 grant from All Points North Foundation to introduce a social-emotional learning (SEL) program in middle schools in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

The grant will be used to provide training, coaching and technical assistance to more than 300 middle school teachers in five Montgomery County school districts as they implement the Second Step SEL curriculum, building upon CES’ existing partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote SEL in the classroom.

“We are appreciative and honored to partner with All Points North Foundation to continue to support students and educators in Montgomery County schools,” said CES Director Lisa Thomas, Ph.D., NCSP. “This project will help middle school students build resilience and acquire the social and emotional skills necessary for school and life success.”

“Through social-emotional learning, middle school students gain skills to navigate the tumultuous times of adolescence, helping them succeed in high school, college, future workplaces and in life,” said Tony Moten, All Points North Foundation Director of Education Grant Partnerships. “We look forward to partnering with the Devereux Center for Effective Schools to provide teachers with essential training that will create a nurturing environment and help students succeed.”

Addressing students’ concerns

Every two years, the state of Pennsylvania conducts a survey of students in grades 6,8,10 and 12 to gather information on risk and resilience factors. Over the past five administrations of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, students reported an increase in concerns.

“School commitment and involvement serves as a protective factor to buffer the negative effects of risk factors, such as traumatic experiences,” Thomas explained. “On the 2021 administration of the survey in Montgomery County, only 45% of youth reported a commitment and involvement in school. In addition, 38% reported feeling ‘no good at all,’ while 26% reported thinking they are ‘a failure.’ This data highlights the critical need for strategies to prevent and address concerns reported by youth.”

Creating supportive learning environments

With the grant, CES expects to reach more than 5,000 middle school students in Montgomery County.

“Training and coaching middle school teachers to implement Second Step will enhance protective factors by exposing students to a positive school climate and provide instruction to increase students’ skills with emotion management, responsible decision-making, problem-solving, empathy and maintaining positive relationships,” Thomas said. “Second Step instruction also will help instill critical workplace skills aligned with Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills. Ultimately, these skills will help to create a safer, more respectful learning environment where students participating in Second Step will demonstrate significantly fewer conduct problems and significantly lower levels of emotional distress.”

Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Valerie Arkoosh, M.D., MPH, said implementing the Second Step curriculum will have a positive impact on Montgomery County youth, setting them up for social and emotional success.

“Montgomery County is a proud partner of the Center for Effective Schools, and we are extremely pleased to see the expansion of social-emotional learning for area middle school students. This will allow us to build on the current work that has been so successful at the elementary level,” shared Dr. Arkoosh. “We know COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on our student’s mental health, which is why programs like these are critical to providing students with important resiliency skills for their future.”

About All Points North Foundation

Founded in 2011, the All Points North Foundation is dedicated to navigating communities upward. All Points North Foundation provides grants for U.S.-based projects and initiatives that support the foundation’s priorities: improving public middle school education and teacher training, and implementing effective solar programs and/or projects.

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

 

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