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News

Social Emotional Learning leads to student success

Everyone knows that students at Lincoln Public Schools learn reading, math and science. What many people don’t know is that students also learn how to understand and manage their emotions, how to feel and show empathy for others, and how to maintain positive relationships.

Those are a few examples of Social Emotional Learning, or SEL, and that was the topic of the latest LPS Learning Lunch, held Nov. 29 in the Board Room at LPS District Office. Carrie Erks, an LPS social worker, presented to a full room about SEL and how it’s incorporated into the district’s curriculum for students from preschool through seventh grade.

Lincoln Public Schools realizes that success in the classroom - and in life - depends on more than academics, which is where SEL comes in, Erks explained. LPS uses a curriculum called “Second Step” to teach SEL. It teaches four main areas:

  • Skills for learning
  • Empathy
  • Emotion management
  • Problem solving

“We know children with these skills are more likely to get along with others, be empathetic, be less aggressive and be able to communicate well,” Erks said, later adding, “There’s just a lot of potential with this when we’re being purposeful and strategic about it.”

Research has proven that SEL leads to higher student success, including an 11 percent gain on standardized tests in math and reading. Not only that, but students who learn these skills early in life are more self-confident, empathetic and communicate better with others as adults.

“It’s not just for children, it’s for adults,” Erks said. “This is something we all need to be working on - lifelong.”

LPS has been teaching SEL at the preschool level since 1999. In 2015, thanks to a grant, the district began incorporating it into the curriculum for kindergarten through seventh grade.

At the end of her presentation, Erks showed a video featuring two parents of LPS kindergarten students who have witnessed the positive effects of Social Emotional Learning.

“I really do think it makes a difference,” said one of the parents, who also is an LPS preschool teacher. “I’ve seen my students use it in the classroom as well as my daughter using it at home.” 

LPS Learning Lunches, open to the Lincoln community, are generally held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The rest of the 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 19:  Restoring Calm: LPS Response to Crisis, Brenda Leggiadro, LPS supervisor for Counselors and Social Workers; and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, facilitator, LPS Crisis Response Team.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: Success with our Scholars, featuring LPS students and Pete Ferguson, coordinator, LPS Youth Development Team.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: Kids vs. adults in LPS Spelling Bee, LPS Spelling Bee champions compete with LPS employees, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist, Secondary English Language Arts.
  • Tuesday, March 27: Developing Young Men and Women, featuring Huntington Elementary School children and Rik Devney, Huntington principal.
  • Tuesday, April 24: A Great Year of Achievement, highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15: Making Music, UKE can do it!  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.


Published: December 1, 2017, Updated: December 1, 2017

“We know children with these skills are more likely to get along with others, be empathetic, be less aggressive and be able to communicate well...There’s just a lot of potential with this when we’re being purposeful and strategic about it.”

Carrie Erks, LPS social worker

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