Summary

Demand for social and emotional learning (SEL) continues to rise across the country, as documented by surveys of teachers, principals, students, and employers. It is coming from school districts of all types — from large urban school districts that represent most of CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative over the past several years, to suburban and private schools as well. Public school systems such as Evanston, Illinois (outside Chicago and home of Northwestern University), Hinsdale (outside Chicago), and Palo Alto, California (home of Stanford and the center of Silicon Valley), as well as private schools such as Holton Arms (outside Washington, DC) are embracing SEL, too.

Across all types of schools and districts, educators are realizing that SEL is key to preparing their students to be caring, thoughtful, and collaborative citizens in a more diverse world. Schools and districts are also seeing SEL as a way to address their particular needs, including helping create trauma-sensitive learning environments and helping students deal with college-prep pressure.

The four school districts featured below share several characteristics: legacies of academic success, increased levels of student and staff stress, and a leadership commitment to broaden their approach to educating the “whole child.”

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