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SAND CREEK SCHOOLS ADOPTS SEL CURRICULUM

Based on an identified need, the Sand Creek Community Schools Board of Education recently adopted a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum called Lions Quest. This curriculum is currently being implemented with fidelity at Sand Creek Schools in grades K-12.

Last spring, the school district assessed its student body in five different areas of SEL to find out if it was an area of need. As suspected, the results from that assessment indicated there was a sincere need to incorporate SEL curriculum in grades K-12. To do so, Sand Creek needed a curriculum designed to increase SEL awareness and to build the necessary skills to properly manage it.

For the past twenty years, Sand Creek Superintendent of Schools Steve Laundra has been listening to local employer concerns that too many students of today are coming to them with very limited soft skills. Sand Creek Schools believes that social emotional learning is the key component in developing and improving these soft skills.

After confirming the need for SEL, the school district formed a ten person SEL Team to search for SEL curriculums that were effective and affordable. In a short matter of time, the team narrowed their decision down to Lions Quest, a SEL curriculum directly aligned with the Collaborative for Academic Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) Framework, the same framework that’s been adopted by the Lenawee County Superintendents Association and the Lenawee County Cradle to Career Partnership. As the Sand Creek SEL Team dug deeper into the Lions Quest curriculum, it became very clear that it was the best fit for our school district, and that it could be implemented as early as this fall.

The Sand Creek K-12 faculty has fully committed to delivering a minimum of 25-30 minutes of SEL instruction per week through the use of the newly purchased Lions Quest curriculum. These detailed and carefully designed lessons cover all five of the main components of the CASEL Framework and they build on these same important soft skills from one year to the next. The Lions Quest curriculum also includes a parent participation component. Many of the lessons require students to have meaningful SEL conversations with their peers, teachers, parents and other significant adults in their lives.

The five main components of the CASEL Framework and the Lions Quest curriculum are Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Skills and Social Awareness. Examples of topics found in the Lions Quest curriculum include knowing your positive values, identifying your emotions, dealing with stress, effective listening, respect, solving conflicts, bullying and choices & consequences.

During the school district’s probe into SEL and Lions Quest, a SEL grant opportunity was discovered and the school applied for it. This grant opportunity was being sponsored by the Lions Club International Foundation. Sand Creek applied for a fully funded grant of $15,000, which was the cost to purchase the curriculum and the teacher training that comes with it. The Lions Club International Foundation is the direct sponsor of the Lions Quest curriculum and the Lions Club SEL initiative. In early September, Sand Creek was informed that they had been awarded a Lions Club grant for the full dollar amount of the curriculum and training. Although the school district would have moved forward with this purchase despite the outcome of the grant application, certainly the news about receiving an “in full” grant from the Lions Club International Foundation was a huge financial bonus and a win-win for Sand Creek Community Schools. The Sand Creek K-12 faculty received three hours of training from Lions Quest in August, and they’ll be receiving an additional 3 hours of training in November. In addition, SEL has been made a standard agenda item for all monthly faculty meetings, and the Sand Creek SEL Team will be meeting monthly to discuss and assess the effectiveness of the curriculum, the implementation, and to make necessary adjustments as the school year moves on. With the support of the Lenawee ISD, the SEL Team is using a continuous improvement processes to study the evidence of the implementation using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles. In addition, the Blissfield Area Lions Club has partnered with Sand Creek to support the Lions Quest initiative.

Sand Creek’s new SEL curriculum goes hand in hand with the school district’s mission and vision statements, and it also compliments and supports the school district’s Capturing Kids Hearts initiative that was implemented six years ago. Although it may take some time to make a noticeable difference, Sand Creek Community Schools is very excited about providing a meaningful SEL curriculum to its students, and it is the district’s sincere hope and desire that this initiative will make a positive impact on improving the soft skills that are so badly needed in today’s society and workforce.

So if you’re in the market, Sand Creek Community Schools is “SEL-ing” out with a sincere intent to make the world a better place for its students and for society.