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Rochester Central Lutheran School


2nd grade students with friends
Sarah Pease, MS, LSC


Success in school is not just about reading and math. It is also about knowing how to learn and how to get along well with others. Researchers have found that students too often leave school with skills in the areas of math, reading, and technology, but without adequate social and emotional intelligence to complement these skills so that students may be successful in the work force. Consequently, schools have been begun to address this need by incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) into the school day.

Social-Emotional Learning has been described as the process through which students and adults develop the skills for fundamental life effectiveness. These are the skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work effectively and ethically. SEL is important for both students and adults to develop fundamental life skills.

One really cool thing that researchers and schools are discovering about SEL is that it is benefiting students by more than just increasing social and emotional skills. In fact, researchers have found that schools that formally facilitate Social-Emotional Learning have an 11% increase in standardized achievement test scores.

Social-Emotional Learning Matters graph

RCLS recognizes its students’ need for Social-Emotional Learning and seeks to meet this need, in part, through Second Step, a curriculum designed to help students develop social-emotional skills that will benefit them in the RCLS classroom and beyond.

The Elementary Second Step program teaches skills in the following four areas:

1. Skills for Learning: Students gain skills to help themselves learn, including how to focus their attention, listen carefully, and be assertive when asking for help with schoolwork.

2. Empathy: Students learn to identify and understand their own and others’ feelings. Students also learn how to take another’s perspective and how to show compassion.

3. Emotion Management: Students learn specific skills for calming down when they experience strong feelings, such as anxiety or anger.

4. Problem Solving: Students learn a process for solving problems with others in a positive way.

The Middle School Second Step program teaches skills in the following four areas:

1. Mindsets and Goals: Students learn about ways to grow their brains and get smarter, along with research-based strategies for achieving goals and handling difficult situations.

2. Values and Friendships: Students learn to identify their personal values and use those values to make good decisions and build strong, positive relationships.  

3. Thoughts, Emotions, and Decisions: Students learn the positive role emotions play in their lives, specific strategies for calming themselves, and how to handle unhelpful thoughts and strong emotions.

4. Serious Peer Conflicts: Students learn how to identify and avoid serious conflicts, resolve conflicts that can't be avoided, think about other people's perspectives, and help stop bullying and harassment at school.

Every class, grades K-5, will have an opportunity to participate in a 20-30 minute Second Step lesson every week. Classes in grades 6-8 will receive Second Step lessons every other week. As the school counselor, I will be teaching these lessons; we will have a lot of fun with these very interactive lessons. I encourage parents to follow along and reinforce these lessons in other contexts. In this month’s PawPrint, parents will find instructions for accessing the curriculum with activation keys that will allow them to follow along at home for what their student is learning in Second Step.

I’m looking forward to working with RCLS students this year. Please let me know if you have any questions about SEL or Second Step, which I expect will be a valuable component of students’ Learning for Life here at RCLS.


Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., & Schellinger, K.B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional leraning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interentions. Child Development, 82, (1), 405-432.

SEL impact (2019). Casel. Retrieved from 


Grounded in Grace and informed by the principles that Scripture offers for emotions, behaviors, and interpersonal interactions, RCLS strives to maintain an emotionally supportive learning environment for every child. This curriculum supports that effort. We’re thankful for Miss Pease’s expertise as we, in partnership with parents, shape the emotional and social well-being of children who will compassionately and wisely care for themselves, others, and their community.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding….

(Proverbs 3:13)