Social Emotional Learning Across the County

Professional Development at the Districts

Suzanne Denham and Shannon McQuaide facilitated a 4-hour professional development around “Creating Cultures of Belonging” on September 1 at San Lorenzo Valley High School and Middle School.

Mountain Elementary is implementing Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s “RULER” approach to Social Emotional Learning. Each class has created a “Charter”, a co-constructed set of shared agreements based on how students want to feel at school and behaviors to support those feelings. In addition, they are building self-awareness and emotional vocabulary with daily check-ins using a “Mood Meter”.

Santa Cruz Gardens is also continuing to implement Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s “RULER” approach to Social Emotional Learning. They are building “Wellness Kits” for each classroom to provide a space and tools for students to take a short break and “reset” independently.

Inner Explorer

Inner Explorer, a 180-day “push and play” series of mindfulness practices, is being implemented at five schools across the county and is available for others who are considering incorporating this strategy to support stress management for students and teachers.


SLV High School’s Social Emotional Learning Team (including the COE support team) attended the “Wellness Together” Conference in Anaheim, for shared learning about how to best support student wellness and Engagement. Keynote speakers included: Abha Singh Sachal – Eco Anxiety Dr. Diana E. Ramos, California Surgeon Mayra Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership (and Obama administration appointee) Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Anna Lembke, Stanford University of Medicine, author of “Dopamine Nation”

SEL Community of Practice

We have offered a Social Emotional Learning Community of Practice for adults to build their own emotional intelligence skills, in order to support their well-being, and ultimately to better support students. The Community of Practice is based on Dr. Martinez’ “Growing Your HEART Skills” Course and will be co-facilitated by Dr. Martinez.

“Center of Wellness” Visit

As part of the CA Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Community of Practice, Michael Paynter, Suzanne Denham, and Wendy Baron participated in a site visit to a Sacramento school that is a “center of wellness”.

The entire school culture is intentionally designed to support staff and student wellness, including providing wellness kits and spaces for staff and students, staff having a dedicated “co-regulation” partner, and every student having an authentic connection to a specific adult on site, as well as five daily practices that support inclusion and SEL strategy development, schoolwide.

Community of Practice with NTP

We have also offered a Community of Practice for the Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley New Teacher Project mentors to support their wellness and share wellness practices with new teachers and their classes. Kelvin Education Pulse surveys have been made available to all public schools, to gather timely SEL data. Schools are utilizing the Pulse surveys to gather input from students and staff on topics such as school climate and sense of connection.

CA State SEL Community of Practice

The Santa Cruz SEL team also attended the California SEL Community of Practice, which focused on research from UCLA on supporting the connecting brain during adolescence and networking with other COE’s SEL teams to share practices in support of SEL implementation, mindfulness, and wellness.