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SEL-a-bration engages EPISD leadership with social emotional learning



The EPISD leadership team SEL-a-brated good times Tuesday practicing and learning how to implement Social Emotional Learning in their workplace.


The SEL-a-bration, sponsored by the EPISD Student and Family Empowerment team, brought the similar social emotional learning objectives and activities taught in the classroom to central office administrators.


“We are really excited to do this SEL-a-bration for central office. We are talking about implementing SEL systemically throughout the District, not just at our campuses,” coordinator Sandra Montes-Uranga said. “We want to use social emotional learning with our employees, our departments and our leaders so we create a positive work environment.”


The event kicked off with a welcoming ritual, as per SEL practice, where department leaders shared their “emotional weather” in small groups before delving into the ABCs of SEL.


Ray Lozano, executive director of student and family empowerment, addressed the group about their role as part of the EPISD team.


“We want to ensure you have an understanding of SEL and have some insight into the experiences and successes that we had during our first year, which turned out to be a pilot year for us,” Lozano said. “It has been an amazing journey.”


He emphasized the significance of modeling SEL across the board at EPISD. 


“Sometimes we feel we are far removed from the campuses and the students that we don’t necessarily see that impact,” Lozano said. “I can assure you we do have a role to play in making sure that our District accomplishes the vision that was set out in EPISD 2020 and graduating students that are socially and emotionally intelligent individuals.”


Manny Castruita, director of guidance services, used his experience with students to illustrate the importance of SEL.


“I’ve been privileged over the course of my career to be a counselor, and in that capacity, I’ve heard the personal narrative of thousands of children,” Castruita said. “We all got into education for the love of children. That love and compassion to nurture is what should guide us.”


Engaging activities continued throughout the event, keeping participants smiling and playing up the social and emotional aspects of the lessons. It wrapped up with a game of follow the leader.


“We always like to close with this kind of activity where we think about what we have learned and how to apply it in our departments,” Montes-Uranga said. “When you make connections and build relationships with your employees, they thrive. They trust you. They are able to approach you and communicate. They will be happy coming to work, and that’s the bottom line. We want everyone to thrive in the workplace.”