Student voice becomes a key component of SEL

East Saint Louis School District integrating SEL with bullying prevention curriculum and cognitive behavioral therapy
By: | August 7, 2020
In East Saint Louis School District, allowing students to have a voice in their daily lives is another way to improve social-emotional health.In East Saint Louis School District, allowing students to have a voice in their daily lives is another way to improve social-emotional health.

Among the social-emotional stressors for staff and students in East Saint Louis School District #189, the coronavirus “has just been one more thing,” says Tiffany Gholson, director of parent and student support services.

Students suffer the trauma of living in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the nation. Nearly two-thirds of them live below the poverty line and they all eat free lunch.

Over the past few years, the district has placed nurses and truancy/homeless specialists in every school. In addition, its schools have reached the recommended ratio of one social worker for every 250 students.

Heading into the new school year, administrators will further integrate SEL into everyday learning, including an expanded bullying prevention curriculum and cognitive behavioral therapy for students in greater distress.


More from DA: How to embed student voice throughout a district


Allowing students to have a voice in their daily lives is another way to improve social-emotional health.

The district’s Peace Warriors program, which began last year, encourages high school students to learn and practice the principles of peaceful nonviolence inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Most of our Peace Warriors have experienced a tragic loss in their own families,” Gholson says. “Now, they’re reaching out to others to try to intercede and mitigate the violence.”
Read the other stories in our series on SEL as school reopen during COVID:

  1. COVID-era SEL means preparing students for the unknown
  2. 10 ways Austin ISD reinforces SEL during COVID 
  3. Why kids must feel safe before they can learn
  4. 9 ways to boost social-emotional learning post-COVID
  5. 5 reasons why SEL is essential in the COVID era