Fulton Schools Utilize Social-Emotional Learning To Aid Students, Staff

FULTON – The Fulton City School District has begun to embed social/emotional learning both inside and outside of the classroom for students and staff members alike.

Ambassadors of The Positivity Project at G. Ray Bodley High School gather in a show of support for the social/emotional learning focus for the 2018-19 school year.
Ambassadors of The Positivity Project at G. Ray Bodley High School gather in a show of support for the social/emotional learning focus for the 2018-19 school year.

Geri Geitner, FCSD director of Student Support Services, said implementation of specific programs for students in grades kindergarten through six, and seven through 12 already begun to serve as a catalyst for changing the culture at each of the Fulton schools.

Applying knowledge to manage emotions will enable FCSD students to better set and achieve goals and create/maintain relationships, among several other positive effects.

Teachers will also be even better supports for their students and one another.

New this year, the district has implemented the Second Step curriculum for social/emotional learning in grades kindergarten through six.

Geitner said that program will focus on the development of skills to help reduce problem behaviors and promote safety, self-regulation, success and a support.

As FCSD students transition into middle school and high school, they will utilize The Positivity Project to learn how to better apply those skills, such as with both social- and self-awareness, ethical decision-making and relationships.

“This is important because it’s about building skills for life,” Geitner said. “We want to expose everyone to the language and the big ideas.”

GRB Vice Principal Amy Stephenson said she has already seen that tenfold at the high school.

A group of more than 100 students have been selected as Positivity Project Ambassadors, who will lead lessons to their peers as they define topics, share quotes, show videos and answer questions.

The project promotes character strengths, rather than defining weaknesses. The idea, Stephenson said, is to build one another up.

The movement also has Fulton Junior High School students and teachers excited about the project. Vice Principal Liz Stoddard said seventh and eighth graders have completely embraced the effort, which coincides with the district’s existing Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports initiative. Handmade posters about those top 24 traits are hung up throughout the building.

This opportunity, she said, will enable FJHS students to build their own leadership capacity.

While there will be related assemblies and honors at FJHS, both Stoddard and Geitner stressed the importance of providing students with the tools to carry those lessons home.