Washington Primary School first graders participated in a Sanford Harmony social and emotional learning lesson this week

H-ton Students Engage in Social & Emotional Learning

Washington Primary School first graders participated in a Sanford Harmony social and emotional learning lesson this week.

March 13, 2019

Huntington UFSD’s social and emotional learning plan for elementary grade level students is well underway.

The state has required districts to adopt and implement a social and emotional learning program. Assistant Superintendent Beth McCoy and Director of Special Education and Student Support Services Diana Rich spearheaded the district vetting efforts.

The district chose to use the Sanford Harmony social and emotional learning program. Superintendent James W. Polansky said Huntington UFSD investigated several programs and piloted Sanford Harmony’s at the lower grade levels before adopting it as the district’s official plan.

“The first year roll-out was a learning experience for all, but the feedback has been positive,” Mr. Polansky said. “Lessons and activities seem to spiral nicely from one grade level to the next. We look forward to building on initial implementation of the program in the years to come and to continue using it as a meaningful component of our students’ social and emotional learning process.”

Sanford Harmony’s SEL program is research-based for students in grades K-6. “Sanford Harmony teaches students how to identify emotions, problem solve in difficult situations and apply coping skills when frustrated,” according to the proposal submitted to trustees. “It targets instruction to enhance self-management, relationship building and decision making skills.”

State regulations require districts to adopt an elementary school curriculum that “provides for participation in planned activities for developing attitudes, knowledge and behavior that contribute to students’ self-worth, respect for their bodies and ability to make constructive decisions regarding their social and emotional health,” according to the new program proposal.

“Administrators and teachers will be meeting this spring to discuss the first year of implementation of the program,” Mrs. McCoy said. “We plan on discussing ways in which we can improve upon the lessons and activities and make adjustments to best meet the needs of all students.”

By approving the Sanford Harmony SEL program for use in Huntington UFSD, trustees met the state requirement that districts implement a curriculum. The adopted curriculum “will further support early intervention for at-risk students presenting behavioral needs,” according to district officials.

Teachers have been implementing the SEL program with a variety of lessons. Washington Primary School first graders participated in activities this week in teacher Melissa Mazzalonga’s classroom.

“In the first activity, the students had to work together, without my help to get in size order,” Mrs. Mazzalonga said. “The second activity involved them working with a partner. One child would put a penny in one hand and their partner would have to guess which hand it was in.”

The first grade lessons might seem simple, but they will lead to bigger things as time goes on.