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Nurturing Hearts & Noggins

Promoting academic, social, and emotional learning for lifelong success
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SEL and The Fierce Urgency of Now


As I became captivated all over again by reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Beyond Vietnam" speech, I began to think about issues in today's society that need to be addressed with a similar level of passion and urgency. Naturally, I thought about the social and emotional needs of our children.

I spend the majority of my days talking with educators, parents, youth, and community leaders about the benefits and foundation that social and emotional learning (SEL) establishes for young people. I encourage them to learn more about SEL, seek evidence-based curricula, implement it in homes and schools, and support it with the fierce urgency of now.

Why the urgency?

We need to be urgent because:

  • Children deserve to be taught skills to be socially aware, self-aware, to self-manage, make positive decisions, and develop healthy relationships.
  • SEL helps to discourage the perpetuation of hate, bigotry, and racism that continues to exist within our society. Students develop an appreciation for differences.
  • When schools fully engage in SEL, students have higher records of attendance and higher levels of engagement in learning.
  • Students feel safe when they come to school. They feel cared for and protected.
  • Parents have higher levels of engagement and participation in their child's education.
  • Family-School partnerships flourish when common language and goals for SEL have been established.
  • Academic test scores rise when SEL has been successfully implemented.
  • Students who develop social and emotional skills are less violent and aggressive than students who have not been taught SEL skills.
  • Our children are worth it.
For more information about social and emotional learning, please contact Durriyyah Kemp at 708-449-4320 or kemp@illinois.edu.


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