SEL Awardee

Shelia Barker

Putnam County Schools
Cookeville, TN
“Educators are becoming increasingly aware of the link between SEL competencies and academic achievement. English Second Language (ESL) and Global Learning Center (GLC) classroom educators report increasing urgent social-emotional barriers affecting *newcomer students' academic growth. In addition, with a significant increase in students arriving in our rural school system as newcomers*, immigrants, *students from native and Indigenous communities, a new approach must be established to help them navigate their first year. ESL teachers reported that newcomers either make the transition with a relative sponsor or travel with a 'paid coyote.' Students are experiencing trauma from leaving families and often experience depression and escalated anxiety due to an unfamiliar culture and negotiating new roles to survive. These newcomers will be provided individual social-emotional backpacks and participate in an 11-week BEST (Be Each other's Support Team) Group. Journey of Hope curriculum addresses emotional intelligence, navigating feelings, and mental health/coping skills. The newcomers will gain skills needed to access community resources and peer support model group participation. The newcomers will receive material and resources to help them succeed in mitigating these life-changing events and circumstances. In addition, their ESL, general education teachers, and BEST Group adult facilitators will monitor their progress. Putnam County Schools would like to provide formal and informal support for newcomers to develop social-emotional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors needed for a successful and culturally appropriate life.”
Tags: District, Elementary School, New Arrivals, Rural, Traditional Public School