Social Emotional Learning in EPISD

Happy New Year!

By now we are in our second week of school and our enrollment, programming, and quick wins are on a roll. Thank you for attracting and retaining more students to EPISD. This week we are featuring our School Leadership Operations Department and introducing our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Blog. This department spearheads three key initiatives aimed at improving school culture and climate as well as developing student personal and interpersonal competencies. Additionally, it leads and supports family engagement efforts district-wide. 

The department is led by Ray Lozano, Executive Director, and is supported by three coordinators focused on supporting all schools in the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), as well as the multi-year implementation of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and at-risk minority male student mentorships at all traditional high schools and all middle schools. The three coordinators are: Sandra Montes-Uranga, Leadership Support Coordinator; Connie Loya, Student Success Coordinator and Velma Sasser, Student Success Coordinator.

The School Leadership Operations Department works closely with the Guidance and Counseling Department, led by Manuel Castruita, on the implementation of SEL and student mentorship. Mary Beth Farkas serves as the liaison between the two departments and has been instrumental in aligning SEL support efforts.

We are partnering with the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) for the purpose of conducting an on-site needs assessment of the District’s readiness to implement social-emotional learning. CASEL is an internationally recognized organization that serves to build capacity and awareness in addressing social-emotional needs of students and adults. They have helped us facilitate attainment of the goals outlined in our EPISD 2020 Strategic Plan. In short, Initiative 2 of the strategic plan outlines an ambitious vision to implement SEL programming district-wide by the year 2020. 

This is truly an exciting time in the history of El Paso ISD! The Board of Trustees and Superintendent Cabrera have mapped out a vision that addresses academic outcomes while also placing equal importance on the social-emotional development of our children. Research indicates that students with a strong, positive relationship with their teachers have better performance. Conversely, a punitive approach to challenging behaviors can undermine the quality of teacher-student relationships. 

Mr. Lozano and I will be blogging stories, suggestions, and research on social-emotional learning (SEL). Stay tuned to our SEL_BLOG, as we know a high touch is crucial to high tech students. Today‘s students need teachers to model warmth and empathy. 

Ivonne Durant
Deputy Superintendent of Academics and School Leadership