Guest Column: School district is helping the whole child to grow

Published 10:00 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

Principal’s Corner, By Johanna Thomas

A common and critical goal in education is educating the whole child.  This encompasses academic and social and emotional growth. The Albert Lea Area Schools mission states: To ensure individual academic, social and emotional growth that leads to engaged citizens and lifelong learning. At Halverson Elementary, as well as all elementary schools in the district, this includes

Johanna Thomas

providing high-quality academic instruction as well as social and emotional learning. Last week, Nick Sofio, principal of Lakeview Elementary, wrote about responsive classrooms and morning meetings. In addition to this practice, all elementary schools have a school social worker and a school counselor. The school counselor is an addition to programming this year to continue the support for social and emotional learning of our students that leads to academic success. School counselors will provide specific, whole class lessons on topics that include skills for learning, empathy, friendship and problem solving, as well as emotion management. School counselors will also work with individual and small groups of students based on specific needs for support.  These lessons are not stand-alone lessons but are incorporated throughout the student’s day among all staff. The first and most important early learning influence in a child’s life is family, and, as the child becomes school age, also becomes school. At Halverson, we take this responsibility with the greatest of commitment to our students.  By incorporating and providing social and emotional expectations and supports, we can accomplish this mission as we work together, with families, to ensure engaged and lifelong learners.

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Johanna Thomas is the principal at Halverson Elementary School.