Rutgers Partnership Prepares Teachers to Support Children’s Character Development

Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools, a partnership of Rutgers University and the College of Saint Elizabeth

Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools Expands Certificate Program with Additional Online Sections and New Live Workshops

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (Sept. 7, 2016) — Success in school isn’t just about grades or test scores. It’s also about learning how to work well with others, manage one’s feelings, and become a responsible, caring adult. But in their efforts to foster such learning, even the best teachers face a perennial question: how?

Concerned teachers can find new answers with a newly expanded certificate program offered through the Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools, a partnership of Rutgers University and the College of Saint Elizabeth. Launched last year as a small-scale experiment in professional development, the Academy has created a robust certificate program for teachers, after-school professionals and other educators.

For this fall, it has expanded its offerings to include additional sections of its certificate courses, as well as its first-ever in-person workshops, designed for participants who prefer an accelerated course of training. The Academy’s Web-based certificate program, which has already produced nearly 100 alumni in the United States and abroad, may be completed entirely online within one academic year.

“We need to prepare children for the tests of life, not just a life of tests,” says Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Rutgers and co-director of the Academy. “To do that, we need educators who are as skilled and invested in supporting social-emotional and character development as they are in teaching academics. This certificate program gives them the knowledge, tools and networks to accomplish both.”

Elias, who also directs the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, launched the Academy with co-director Patricia C. Heindel, Ph.D., dean of professional studies at the College of Saint Elizabeth and director of its Center for Human and Social Development, where she and her colleagues assess and study how to improve the culture and climate of schools.  

“School is an environment for learning,” Heindel says, “and that environment can be nurtured or neglected. If we want our children to learn, then teachers and principals must create and sustain a positive environment where learning can happen. That requires a sense of safety and support, which emerges only when children can trust each other and the adults who care for them.”

The Rutgers certificate program, focused specifically on the instruction of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, is one of two that the Academy offers. A second program in school leadership, offered at the College of Saint Elizabeth, prepares pre-K-12 principals and other administrators to create and strengthen the school- and district-level systems that allow social-emotional and character development, also known as SECD, to flourish. 

Both programs involve three parts: an initial course on the fundamentals of SECD, school culture and climate; a second course on how to apply SECD to instruction or school leadership; and a practicum, in which each participant identifies an SECD-related issue in a classroom or school, designs an intervention, and assesses the results of that intervention over half a school year.

Enrollment is now open for the first fall 2016 section of the initial course, Foundations of SECD, which begins on Oct. 3 and is designed for pre-K-12 teachers, after-school professionals and small-group educators. Anyone with 60 or more college-level credits is eligible to apply for the 10-week, $240 course. The total cost of all three Rutgers courses leading to the Certificate in Instruction for Social-Emotional and Character Development is $840. The Rutgers course application is available at https://goo.gl/zGNGNO.

Enrollment is also now open for the first fall 2016 section through the College of Saint Elizabeth, which begins on Oct. 17 and is designed for school leaders and other educational administrators. Anyone with a bachelor’s or higher degree is eligible to apply for the five-week, $129 course. The total cost of all three CSE courses leading to the Certificate in School Leadership for Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development is $867. The CSE course application is available at https://goo.gl/4TqZwI.

Additionally, the Academy will offer its first-ever in-person workshops. Beginning in October, the workshops will allow participants to complete both of the first two courses in two full days. Those who successfully complete the workshops will be eligible to enroll in the practicum at Rutgers, which leads to the Certificate in Instruction for Social-Emotional and Character Development. More information about the workshops, including locations, will be available at https://goo.gl/4TqZwI.

The Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools prepares pre-K-12 teachers, school leaders, and after-school professionals to design, promote and implement programs for social-emotional learning and character development that strengthen the culture and climate of schools and ultimately improve the lives of children. To learn more, please visit SELinSchools.org and follow @SELinSchools.

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