SEL Conference

Social-Emotional Learning at the Heart of Student Success
Posted on 08/01/2023
MNPS educators at SEL Conference

MNPS staff at SEL conference

Social-emotional learning is a big deal in Metro Nashville Public Schools, just as important to students' development as reading, math and other academic skills.

"SEL is not an extra, an add-on, a luxury," Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle said recently. "It is at the heart of everything we do as a district. Social-emotional learning is critical to students' long-term success." 


Battle spoke recently at the district's 2023 SEL "Level Up" Conference, which drew nearly 400 MNPS educators and community partners to a day of workshops and speakers on the campus of Lipscomb University.

MNPS, which organized the conference with Alignment Nashville and STARS Nashville, is committed to helping every student develop the five SEL core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsible decision-making.

"This year's SEL Conference was titled 'Level Up' because it was important to highlight how our district and educators have leveled up their commitment to be intentional about ensuring the social and emotional wellness of every student in MNPS," said Dr. Jaime Lomax, who leads the district's SEL work as executive director of student services. SEL speaker on stage

"The conference was a natural continuation, building upon the foundation of every MNPS staff member and educator engaging in SEL Essential Practices professional learning and the successful implementation of SEL signature initiatives like Navigators, Advocacy Centers, and Peace Centers."

Tara Brown, a former teacher at Antioch High School who is now a consultant and motivational speaker known as "The Connection Coach," also spoke to the group about the power of making strong emotional connections through positive relationships with students.

The day wrapped up with a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Battle and featuring five MNPS educators, a community partner, and Abenezer Haile, an outgoing student member of the Board of Education who recently graduated from Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School and will start college at New York University this fall.

"Having leaders that aren't just adults, but having kids as leaders ... that shows the true intention of the district, which is yes, we care about our students, but we care about our students because we're giving them a platform to be as successful as they want to be," Haile said.

"And what we see happen is, when we look at the student body, they start feeling more comfortable as leaders themselves. And the one thing that I've tried to work on, and the Board members that I've worked with have tried to work on, is making sure students understand that leaders aren't necessarily born. They're just given the right platform and they rise to the occasion."

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