SEL Fellows Academy

Supporting social and emotional learning leadership and implementation to more communities nationwide so all young people receive the education they deserve.

As SEL reached an inflection point, so did the surging demand from educators for guidance on how to advance the work and support millions of young people. 

Launched in 2021 by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and with seed funding from The Allstate Foundation, the SEL Fellows Academy is a unique opportunity for rural, suburban, and urban community leaders to strengthen their SEL expertise with those in similar roles across the country. 

The annual SEL Fellows Academy for up to 55 district and regional office of education employees who lead SEL work in the United States grows and strengthens the practices of SEL leaders in community with others.

Please note, the application for the 2023-2024 cohort will open in early 2023. Interested in applying to a future cohort? Sign up to be alerted

“I love having this community of people and access to [CASEL]. I don't know how I would have even dreamed of doing even the small pieces that I'm doing right now. I just really keep thinking as I'm going through this fellowship of how many other people there are like me out there.”
Inaugural SEL Fellows Academy Participant

What is the SEL Fellows Academy?

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For over a decade, CASEL has been in research-practice partnerships with large, urban school districts learning side-by-side how to build, sustain and scale high-quality SEL across a district. The 10-month, virtual SEL Fellows Academy builds on this success to offer a unique opportunity for rural, suburban, and urban communities to strengthen their SEL expertise in community with one another.

Our model combines professional learning with a community of practice to advance SEL toward equity and excellence in all schools. Annually, a cohort of about 50 SEL leaders will be selected to participate and deepen their SEL practice at a personal, interpersonal, and institutional level. Learn more.

What do we look for in an SEL Fellow?

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The SEL Fellows Academy is for those employed by a district or regional office of education in the United States. SEL Fellows are passionate about SEL, dedicated to their own discovery and development, and responsible for leading SEL in their community. Each cohort of about 50 district or regional SEL leaders participate in a 10-month program, engaging in workshops, mentorship, coaching consultancies, and more. 

The inaugural 2021 Allstate Foundation Cohort welcomed 31 school district and regional leaders from 17 states that collectively served more than 1.6 million students. The 2022-2023 cohort welcomes 53  school district and regional leaders from 18 states

What are the key components?

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The SEL Fellows experience is designed to embody the principles of SEL, weaving together the theory and the practice. You will build your knowledge of SEL theory and practice, adult SEL, SEL for students, and continuous improvement to enhance the work that is most relevant to you.

Your time with us will include three dedicated hours per month for community gatherings:

  • Cohort Learning Community: Nine full group workshops (One/month). The sessions will focus on your own SEL leadership development and dive deep into the CASEL framework for implementation. This will include opportunities to connect with the cohort, with district and regional leaders from across the country, as well as national leaders on areas of interest in the SEL field. 
  • Peer Inquiry Circles: Five small-group coaching consultancies (every other month) where you will engage with other Fellows and a CASEL facilitator to tackle the unique dilemmas and opportunities of leading SEL across your organization. 

You will have opportunities for collaboration and connection with others: 

  • Journey Partners: Monthly collaboration with a small group of SEL Fellows who share a common goal, district structure, and/or interests. Collaboration with Journey Partners allows for honest conversations to enhance peer learning that will move your practices forward. These connections can occur whenever convenient and are a key source of sustenance and inspiration for our Fellows. 
  • CASEL Mentor: Fellows can opt into having a mentor from the broader CASEL community to support their Capstone project implementation. Each mentor pairing will meet three times over the course of the Fellows Academy experience to support the Fellow through the Capstone project process – from brainstorming to developing to presenting to leadership. In the past, mentors have been CASEL leadership members, school district leaders, or national experts in research and practice.

You will have access to a team of CASEL experts and high-quality resources to support your ongoing work on SEL implementation. 

  • Learning HUB platform: A digital community platform is offered exclusively to SEL Fellows to connect with the cohort and CASEL. It includes curated resources, discussion boards, and recordings of live sessions and is updated regularly in response to questions and conversations among fellows. 
  • Superintendent Engagement: Opportunities for Fellows’ superintendents to connect via a superintendent roundtable and to attend the capstone project presentations with a small group of SEL Fellows.
  • Alumni network: All SEL Fellows become part of a CASEL alumni community who have the opportunity to connect quarterly via speaker series and themed discussion groups, as well as an online HUB to share what they are working on and get support. You will get to know our wonderful inaugural cohort of Fellows, as well as those who will follow you.

FAQ

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Review our most frequently asked questions about the SEL Fellows Academy:

Eligibility/Selection Criteria

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    • Applicants MUST be employed by a school district or regional office of education in the United States and they must be responsible for leading SEL in their communities. Only one applicant per school district or community is eligible to apply. Our aim is to bring together a cohort of SEL leaders who represent the full landscape of this work (e.g., rural, urban, suburban) and different stages of implementation of SEL. We are looking for leaders who are eager to learn with and from one another and who are well-positioned to advance systemic change in their districts or regions. 

    • We will select a maximum of 50 applicants per cohort to participate in the SEL Fellows Academy for the 2022-2023 cohort.

    • This opportunity is only open to district leaders or regional office of education leaders in the United States. We encourage principals, building SEL leaders or other educational leaders who do not fit the description of regional or district lead to join us for CASEL’s Leading Schoolwide SEL workshop. It is offered virtually twice a year – with an on-demand, self-paced version launching soon.

    • No. To ensure the experience is most impactful for participants, the SEL Fellows Academy is an opportunity only for those employed by school districts and regional offices of education in the United States.

    • This opportunity is designed for SEL leads who are responsible for implementation over a district or region. Only one applicant per district or region is eligible to apply.

    • This experience is designed to be a meaningful learning opportunity for SEL leaders at all stages of this work. What is critical is that the applicant be well-positioned to lead systemic work, meaning they are the leader in charge of SEL planning and implementation for the district or regional overall, and that they are eager to learn and apply their learnings!

Cost

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    • The cost to participate in the SEL Fellows Academy is $4,500 per person for the 10-month engagement. Most participants have the cost covered by their employer/school district/regional office of education. Participation in this leadership academy benefits your organization as a whole. We encourage prospective Fellows to inquire about professional learning or development funds available through their district or regional office.

    • We anticipate that applicants will have financial support for participation from their employers. We do have limited funds available for financial assistance if necessary. You can indicate the need for support in your application of interest. Note: An indication of financial need does not guarantee additional support and will not impact our review of the application.

    • There is no payment made to Fellows for their participation.

Application of Interest

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    • The 2022-2023 application closed on April 1, 2022. Sign up here to be alerted when you can apply for the next cohort 

      CASEL will be reviewing applications to create a diverse and cohesive learning community of about 50 SEL leaders. Those accepted to be part of the 2022-2023 cohort will be notified in early May 2022, and the cohort will launch in August 2022.

Time Commitment

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    • Full group sessions are held on Friday afternoons (ET) Exact times for all cohort 2 sessions will be shared prior to the launch. Note, the leadership academy requires active and engaged participation. Fellows will engage in workshops, mentorship, coaching consultancies and related projects. This will add up to three dedicated hours per month for community gatherings and up to three hours of additional work monthly to reinforce and apply these learnings.

Programming

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    • Throughout the 10-month experience, Fellows will unpack CASEL’s framework for systemic SEL implementation, developing their own knowledge and practice for leading systemic change in their own contexts. Each session is thoughtfully designed to be an immersive leadership experience where Fellows explore key elements of SEL leadership and implementation, delving into the theory and practice of the fundamental principles of SEL, adult SEL, SEL for students and continuous improvement. In addition, Fellows develop deep connections to a national community of SEL leaders, and apply their learnings to their own contexts through the development or refinement of SEL action plans and Capstone projects. 

    • The SEL Fellows Academy full group sessions are designed to bring forward the latest learnings, and research related to SEL. The whole model is based on CASEL’s field tested framework of and evidence-based understanding of systemic SEL. We work together to unpack the latest grapplings and questions related to emerging work. CASEL continually updates the content we bring forward, sharing insights from field leaders and experts to inform the Fellows’ discussions.

    • Our approach to systemic SEL probes deeply into how SEL can be connected to other key areas for communities. As a learning community, we dive into the fundamentals of transformative social and emotional learning, looking at implications for ourselves as SEL leaders and also on implementation. More specific explorations of inquiries, such as how transformative SEL can shape arts education, could be a powerful launching point for an individual Fellows Capstone project.

    • SEL Fellows who participate in the Academy, completing a Capstone project and engaging as active members of the learning community, can share that they are CASEL SEL Fellows Academy Alumni at the conclusion of the experience. They will also be considered an SEL Fellows Academy alumni which includes continued partnership and connection to CASEL and the alumni network. There will not be credentialing offered.  CASEL will provide a certificate of completion at the end of the 10-month Academy. 

    • Leadership engagement is a critical driver of meaningful and sustainable SEL implementation, and therefore, it’s built to be a pillar of the SEL Fellows Academy experience. Starting with the application of interest, prospective Fellows are required to upload a letter of support, ideally from their Superintendent or from their Supervisor (see the application for more details). Then during the SEL Fellows Academy experience, we will bring the Superintendents together for roundtable discussion as well as engage them regarding their Fellow’s Capstone projects.

Outputs and Outcomes

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    • During the SEL Fellows Academy, each Fellow will develop two outputs to guide their implementation process. This will be supported by CASEL office hours and connections to CASEL thought partners.

      • Develop or refine an action plan for SEL implementation in their district or region.
      • Create a Capstone project, based on their personal curiosities and leadership goals, that addresses a specific SEL implementation need in their district or region that will be ready for immediate implementation. 
    • The SEL Fellows Academy is a leadership experience for one person from a district or region leading SEL implementation. That said, our work together focuses on building our individual capacity as leaders and SEL implementation experts, so that Fellows are best prepared to lead high-quality collaboration within their own contexts. The aim is for Fellows to take what they are experiencing in the Academy, including the work of creating or refining implementation plans for their district or region and the development of an aligned Capstone project, and engage colleagues and stakeholders in creating a robust approach to systemic SEL.

Alumni Network

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    • We are excited to continue engaging SEL Fellows beyond their tenure in the Academy as alumni fellows. These opportunities will engage Fellows across cohorts annually and be designed with input from the cohorts, including opportunities for thought partnership, collaboration, and shared learning to sustain the work long-term.

2022-2023 Cohort

LaTrayl Adams

Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools (NC)

LaTrayl Adams is the SEL and Restorative Practices Director at Winston Salem-Forsyth County Schools. Prior to this role, LaTrayl Adams served as a Social Emotional Learning Specialist for Guilford County Schools. In both roles, she has worked to implement systemic SEL. She has also designed and lead ongoing professional learning focused on equity and strengthening adult SEL for teachers, administrators, district personnel, and parents. Prior to serving as an SEL Specialist, Adams served as a school counselor for 13 years and had a vital role in increasing graduation rates, student scholarships, and assisting first generation students with the college application process. Adams is passionate about students, culture and climate, equity, and self-care. Adams holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communications and Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also holds a master’s degree in Agency/Human Resources Counseling from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Ms. Adams understands the power of social and emotional learning and wants to make sure that everyone has a safe and positive learning and working environment so that they can thrive. Director Adams is excited about SEL Fellows because she will have the opportunity to build her knowledge of SEL theory and practice, adult SEL, SEL for students, and continuous improvement to enhance the work that is most relevant.

Jeanette Adams-Price

Monroe One BOCES (NY)

Jeanette Adams-Price is an Instructional Specialist with the Office of School Improvement Professional Learning Team at Monroe One BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) located in Rochester, NY serving 11 districts.

Jeanette is an experienced elementary classroom teacher, professional learning leader, and education consultant leading initiatives on student-centered and classroom embedded formative assessment; standards-based learning, grading, and reporting; LGBTQ+ education; and leads the SEL Leaders in the Monroe One BOCES region. She is a seasoned conference presenter at the local, state, and national levels and has most recently published articles on what makes professional learning effective and long lasting.

Ms. Adams-Price is looking forward to learning deeply about SEL in order to support school districts in her region develop/revise curriculum that embeds the SEL competencies, build success criteria tools and resources that connect to NYS (New York State) guidance documents and SEL benchmarks, and better establish and support a regional community of SEL leaders. Additionally, she is inspired by the opportunity such work offers in creating learning environments and communities that are welcoming and affirming, where all feel they belong, are valued, and encouraged to be their authentic selves.

Jeanette is passionate about social and emotional learning as she sees it as THE essential learning needed right now to foster what she refers to as developing “humanitarian learners” who skillfully and heartfully act upon social justice issues of personal meaning and relevance. Humanitarian learners approach their learning in a prosocial manner where they see one another for all of who they are, uplifting and bringing their uniqueness to the forefront of their collective learning and problem solving. Beyond this living authentically in students and schools, this is sorely needed right now in all communities and our country.

Houston Independent School District (TX)

Dionne Atley-McCurry

Houston Independent School District (TX)

Dr. Dionne Atley-McCurry is a SEL Coordinator and Program Manager in the Houston Independent School District. Prior to this role, Dr. Atley-McCurry served as a school leader, curriculum specialist, academic dean, and instructor. Dr. Atley-McCurry is most looking forward to collaborating with fellow SEL practitioners to develop solutions that seamlessly integrate social and emotional learning for all stakeholders. Dr. Atley-McCurry understands the power of emotional wellness and how social and emotional learning positively impacts academic achievement and healthy social management for children and adults.

Mahpiya Black Elk

NACA Inspired Schools Network (NM)

Maȟpíya Black Elk is the Director of Youth Empowerment & Leadership with the NACA Inspired Schools Network, a national Indigenous education organization based out of Albuquerque, NM.

Before serving in the network, Maȟpíya worked at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) in different capacities including as the executive assistant to the director, creating and implementing substance abuse prevention strategies, and leading wraparound support services for boys and young men of color.

Having the opportunity to work with schools in Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, Maȟpíya is both grateful and thrilled to be a part of the SEL fellows. They hope to expand their knowledge and learn new skills that will continue to impact and transform the health and wellbeing of the communities in the network.

Maȟpíya Black Elk is passionate about social and emotional learning because it is in many ways inherent to traditional ways of being for Indigenous peoples and sees it as a way for communities to reclaim their cultural practices in and outside of the classroom.

Christine Conceison

Burlington Public Schools (MA)

Christine Conceison is the Director of Mental Health at Burlington Public Schools, Burlington, MA. Prior to this role Christine Conceison worked as a school-based social worker, worked for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and continues to work as a private clinician. Mrs. Conceison is excited about SEL Fellows because of her firm belief in the importance of social and emotional learning and its ability to be a preventative and proactive measure in emotional development.

Jessica Donaldson

Regional Office of Education #33 (IL)

Jessica Donaldson is the Director of Behavioral Health with Regional Office of Education #33 in Galesburg, IL. Jessica is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher with over 14 years of experience in mental health and educational program development, leadership and direct service. Jessica is most looking forward to engaging with a network of innovative leaders through the SEL Fellows Academy. She is passionate about enhancing educator and family wellness and specializes in training about Social and Emotional Learning, Trauma-Informed Practices, and Mindfulness.

Matthew DuBois

Public Schools of Brookline (MA)

Dr. Matt DuBois (he/him/his) is the Assistant Director of Guidance, Clinical Services, and Social-Emotional Learning for the Public Schools of Brookline (Massachusetts). As part of his work, Dr. DuBois leads, creates, and executes SEL initiatives across the district (PreK to 12). Prior to his current role in Brookline, Dr. DuBois worked as a school and clinical psychologist for the district, where he coordinated a therapeutic program at the high school. Outside of Brookline, Dr. DuBois is the President of the Massachusetts School Psychology Association (MSPA).

Dr. DuBois is passionate about social and emotional learning because he believes deeply that investing time and resources in SEL is not at the sacrifice of high-quality education, but a fundamental and necessary condition in achieving it. Dr. DuBois is excited to join the SEL Fellows academy and is eager to collaborate with and learn from SEL leaders throughout the country.

Colleen Ferreira

Orange County Department of Education (CA)

Colleen Ferreira is certified in Social-Emotional and Character Development Instruction from Rutgers University, holds an Administrative Services Credential, and a Master's Degree in Elementary Education. She was a classroom educator for 15 years, served as a CA MTSS District Representative to support implementation of CA MTSS, and served as Social-Emotional Learning Lead at her site. She was an SEL Thought Leader for the Advance SEL in CA Project to prepare the report "Advancing SEL Amid a Pandemic and a National Awakening to Systemic Racism" on how to improve SEL education in the state. Currently, she serves as Coordinator of Social-Emotional Learning at the Orange County Department of Education, SEL4CA Regional Coordinator, and partners with the Sacramento County Office of Education in hosting monthly California SEL Community of Practice meetings for county leaders statewide. She believes social-emotional learning has the power to shape compassionate systems and transform life outcomes for students by creating conditions for youth and adults that will support and embrace our shared humanity.

Michelle Gill

Centennial School District (PA)

Michelle Gill is the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning Coordinator at Centennial School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Prior to this role, Michelle had the privilege of designing and leading SEL professional development for educators and consulting in public, private and charter schools, nationally and internationally. Michelle began her career in education as a classroom teacher and spent fourteen years in both the School District of Philadelphia and Fairfax County Public Schools.

As a member of the SEL Fellows Academy, Michelle is most looking forward to building supportive connections with other cohort members and receiving guidance and constructive feedback from CASEL implementation experts.

Michelle is passionate about social and emotional learning because the skills students develop through SEL can support not only their academic success, but their success and wellbeing in all areas of life.

Heather Hawkins

FNESU (VT)

Heather Hawkins is the Assistant Principal at Enosburg Falls High School in Enosburg, VT. Prior to this new 2022-2023 role, Heather Hawkins was the District Social Emotional Learning Coordinator and a District Behavior Analyst. Mrs. Hawkins is excited about SEL Fellows because she is passionate about social, emotional learning as SEL is the foundation of our education system. Participating in this program is a way to be a part of the SEL conversation and bring this critical component to her current and future work.

Josh Lane

Central Kitsap School District (WA)

Josh Lane is the Student and Family Specialist at Central Kitsap School District, located in Bremerton, Washington.

Prior to his current role with CKSD, Josh has had the privilege to serve students and families as a School Counselor in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Josh believes that social emotional skills are at the foundation of all learning. And that we have the collective responsibility as educators to ensure our students graduate with the skills to understand themselves, others, the world, and how to meaningfully contribute to the spaces we all share.

Josh is excited about the collaboration possibilities and expert guidance the SEL Fellow learning community will provide on district-wide implementation of equity centered, transformational SEL programs.

Jennifer Lipton

Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough (MA)

Jennifer Lipton-O'Connor is the SEL Coordinator for the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough in metrowest Massachusetts. Her district includes ten schools that serve approximately 4,500 preK to 12 students across two suburban communities. Prior to this role, Jennifer has served as a School Psychologist or BCBA in a variety of school settings. She has a PhD in Psychology and enjoys being able to use her skills as both a researcher, psychologist, and clinician to support students. This is her second year in a distric-wide leadership role, and she is excited to work and learn from colleagues. Jennifer is passionate about creating safe and inclusive schools, and feels that SEL is a critical piece of that work.

Samantha McMasters

Marion City Schools (OH)

Samantha McMasters is the Teaching and Learning Supervisor at Marion City Schools in central Ohio. This is Samantha's 28th year in public education where she has taught as an intervention specialist and served as a Director of Student Services.

Samantha is excited about the SEL Fellows to help build intentionality in identifying and practicing the interconnectedness of academics, SEL, and equity.

Ms. McMasters is passionate about social emotional learning because it strengthens the relationships among all stakeholders and reinforces our district mission.

Gina Norton

Round Rock ISD (TX)

Gina Norton is the SEL Coordinator for the Round Rock Independent School District in Round Rock, Texas. Prior to returning to Texas last school year, she served as the MTSS behavior coordinator and district behavior specialist in Albany, New York. Her background includes teaching special education, behavioral analysis and social work / counseling. Gina is looking forward to exploring how SEL and MTSS coordinate with one another to focus on the well-being of all students. She looks forward to the collaboration opportunities with others as we all grow these processes in our new educational realities.

Statia Paschel

Austin Independent School District (TX)

Statia Paschel is the Director of SEL and Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness in Austin ISD.

She grew up on the beaches of South Carolina and has served as a coach, teacher and administrator during her 19 year educational journey.

Statia believes in co-creating inclusive systems to support students’ social, emotional, and academic achievement and looks forward to strengthen her practices as a part of the SEL Fellows Academy.

Santina Plottner

Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (KY)

Santina Plottner is a Social Emotional Learning Specialist at the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, which is a consortium of 15 school districts serving 155,000 students in North Central Kentucky. Prior to this role, Santina has served a multitude of students as a certified school counselor and a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) in Kentucky over the past 16 years. As a part of the SEL Fellows Academy, Santina is most looking forward to collaborating with other leaders from across the country on how social and emotional learning can be integrated and woven into existing structures and systems that support the students, educators, families, and communities in her region in KY and beyond. More specifically, Santina is passionate about developing and sustaining systems of support for educators, for the power of social and emotional learning is amplified when educators are actively involved in cultivating and modeling their own social and emotional development.

Melissa Pointer

Highline Public Schools (WA)

Melissa Pointer is the Director of Social Emotional Learning at Highline Public Schools outside of Seattle, WA.

Prior to this Director Pointer served as an elementary principal for eleven years and high school associate principal for four years.

Director Pointer is excited about SEL Fellows because it will provide her with the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from colleagues around the nation who are leading SEL in their districts. Her goal is to build a SEL program that is Anti-Racist and Culturally Responsive in nature. This type of SEL is an emerging field and will require thoughtful development and implementation making joint learning and collaboration with others essential.

Ms. Pointer understands the power of social and emotional learning and has seen it transform school communities and family experiences, including her own.

Katarina Roy Schanz

Riverside Unified School District (CA)

Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz has served as the Director of Wellness and Engagement for Riverside Unified School District in Riverside, CA for the past 8 years. Prior to this role, Katarina held various roles, including school counselor, assistant principal, and principal. Katarina values the impact that social and emotional learning makes on all students. Recently, she led the district in the social and emotional learning curriculum adoption process and is excited to bring the knowledge and experience gained through participation as an SEL Fellow to her district.

Vickie Sargent

Hayward Unified School District (CA)

Vickie Sargent is the Social and Emotional Learning Administrator on Special Assignment for Hayward Unified School District in Northern California. Vickie Sargent has been an educator for 29 years: a high school English teacher, a Teacher on Special Assignment for Restorative Practices, and an Assistant Principal at both an elementary and middle school. Vickie also loved being the administrator for freshmen at a high school in her current district.

Vickie is excited about being an SEL Fellows as her whole career has been leading to this opportunity to bring her student-centered classroom frame and experiences to the larger community. She knows well the importance of building positive relationships with all educational partners. Being an SEL fellow allows Vickie to broaden her learned experiences as she expands her social-emotional learning skill set to benefit her school community including families and community partners by sharing more tools and strategies to cope with the turbulence life can bring.

Vickie is passionate about social and emotional learning because she has seen the real, positive, and lasting impact SEL can have on the lives of both students and adults as they boost skills that can help them better manage life’s challenges on this journey we call life. Vickie enjoys bringing joy, calm, smiles, and new perspectives to all those she has the honor to work with.

Matthew Slight

Clarksville Montgomery County School System (TN)

Matthew Slight is the Director of SEL for Clarksville Montgomery County School System in Clarksville, TN.

Prior to this role Matthew Slight served as principal of West Creek High School from 2015 to 2021.

Mr. Slight is excited about the SEL Fellows and the knowledge and relationships he will gain that will ultimately support the work of his district in providing quality interventions to meet students' academic and behavioral needs.

Sarah Stawowy

Calhoun Intermediate School District (MI)

Sarah Stawowy is a Culture and Climate Consultant at Calhoun Intermediate School District in Marshall, Michigan USA.

Sarah is a licensed Social Worker and has been in the field for approximately 20 years working in a variety of disciplines. Sarah has worked within the field of education for the last 10 years, and prior to becoming a Culture and Climate Consultant she was a School Social Worker and a Behavior Specialist Consultant.

Sarah is excited about becoming a CASEL fellow because she is very passionate about creating systemic change within local school districts around Social and Emotional Learning for both adults and students. Sarah is most looking forward to learning from, and collaborating with other CASEL fellows and becoming part of the CASEL community.

Katy Thomas

Elk Grove Unified School District (CA)

Katy Thomas is the Program Specialist for Social Emotional Learning for Elk Grove Unified School District in Elk Grove, CA. She previously served as a Mental Health Therapist. Prior to her role in mental health she was an Instructional Coach and an Elementary Teacher. Katy is excited to learn about the most recent research regarding Social Emotional Learning. She is passionate about empowering staff and families to support the social emotional wellbeing of students.

Jette Thompson

JO Combs Unified School District (AZ)

Jette Thompson is the Coordinator of Student Services at JO Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley, Arizona. Prior to this role, she served as the SEL Specialist for the district. Her experience in education has allowed her to work as a school counselor with youth from preschool to college. Jette is most looking forward to deepening her knowledge on how to systematically build social emotional learning so that it permeates all of the instructional day and leads to a richer more rigorous school experience for each student. Social emotional learning encompases the essential skills students need to be thriving adults. Jette is passionate about providing the learning environment and opportunity to develop these necessary skills.

Zaia Vera

Oakland Unified Schools District (CA)

Zaia Vera is the SEL Lead at Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, California. She believes in humanizing education that serves to prepare students for the world. Zaia co-founded the Oakland Teacher Residency to cultivate and support local and diverse educators, and she is a former school principal, instructional coach, and teacher. Zaia holds Masters degrees in Psychology and TESOL, and is a Doctoral candidate in Education Leadership. Zaia is looking forward to collaborating with SEL fellows so they can have a coherent theory of action of SEL implementation in OUSD.

Meleika Wadley

Roosevelt SD (AZ)

Meleika Wadley is the Director of Social- Emotional Learning for Roosevelt School District in Phoenix Arizona. She is responsible for the development and evaluation monitoring of a comprehensive school based mental health and social- emotional learning department. Prior to this role Meleika Wadley was the coordinator of school social work and student support systems for Phoenix Elementary District #1 while in this role which she led the development of a comprehensive five-year equity strategic plan Throughout her 17 years in public education and social services, Meleika has built the capacity of educators to transform systems to become equitable and inclusive.

Meleika Wadley is most looking forward to learning from other school districts around the country while having the support, research, and technical assistance from CASEL.

Mrs Wadley passionately advocates for underserved communities and she believes that education is the most powerful weapon to changing the world (Nelson Mandala) and social-emotional learning is a crucial and necessary to the future of our educational systems.

Merritt Waters

Lakewood City Schools (OH)

Dr. Merritt Waters is the Coordinator of Student Wellness for Lakewood City Schools in Lakewood, Ohio. The deep desire that drives her is creating a more joyful and peaceful world. Striving and surrendering, she aspires to live and lead with patience, humility, enthusiasm and nonjudgmental curiosity.

She has had the good fortune to gesture toward these ideals during 26 years of service in several Ohio PK-12 districts in the roles of School Psychologist, Director of Student Services, and Principal. Additionally, part time gigs as a higher ed faculty member, meditation instructor and Vespa shop employee round out diverse opportunities to build, practice, refine and model SEL skills.

As a CASEL Fellow, Dr. Waters anticipates discovering expanded capacity to appreciate every person and situation she encounters. With this widened perspective, she hopes to further embody and encourage open communication, rich collaboration and secure feelings of belonging, thus contributing to the wellbeing of the children and adults she encounters in daily life.

New Castle County Vocational Technical School District (DE)

Mark W. Wells

New Castle County Vocational Technical School District (DE)

Mark W. Wells, M.Ed. is the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Coach for the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District in New Castle County, Delaware in the United States of America. Prior to this role, Mark Wells was a school counselor at Delcastle Technical High School for 15 years. Mark has been working within the field of human services, counseling and education for a total of 23 years and has a broad range of experiences working within state systems. Mark is excited about the SEL Fellows Academy because it directly connects the NCCVT School District with the SEL experts at CASEL, and he is most looking forward to continuing to make a strong effort to embed SEL best practices into all aspects of the educational experience for students, families, faculty, and leadership within the district. Mark is passionate about social and emotional learning because it fosters the creation of positive connections and provides students with the foundation for achievement and holistic success by increasing their levels of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and ability to make responsible decisions.

Heather Wines

Prince William County (VA)

Heather Wines is the newly appointed Supervisor of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) for Prince William County Schools (PWCS) in Virginia. Ms. Wines will be the first person to serve in this role and will be instrumental in developing a Social-Emotional Learning program for the division. Ms. Wines previously served as the Administrative Coordinator for the PWCS Heals Program and the PWCS Pandemic Response team, starting in December 2020. Prior to that role, Ms. Wines served as the Director of School Counseling at Parkside Middle School in PWCS, and as a school counselor at Metz Middle School in the City of Manassas. Prior to working in education, Ms. Wines served as a foster care social worker, both in the City of Manassas and Warren County, Virginia, and as a consultant for the Virginia Department of Social Services.

Ms. Wines has extensive experience working with students and youth with a history of trauma, including those involved in foster care, juvenile justice system, and social services, and is extremely excited to be a part of the SEL Fellows Academy in order to support the implementation of SEL and trauma-informed approaches throughout PWCS from the ground level. Being a part of an extensive network of expertise will allow for opportunity to create a culture within PWCS that treats the social and emotional well-being of school staff and students as a priority. Ms. Wines is a strong advocate on behalf of supporting mental wellness and social-emotional health initiatives for students, families, and school staff members because it creates the foundation needed for all individuals to heal, grow, and flourish.

Greece Central School District (NY)

Christine Baker

Greece Central School District (NY)

Dr. Christine Baker is the Director of Student Services and School Improvement at the Greece Central School District in Greece, New York. Prior to this role, Christine has worked as an Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services, an Assistant Principal, and a School Counselor. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Ithaca College, a Masters in School Counseling from Roberts Wesleyan College and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Rochester. Dr. Baker is excited about participating in the SEL Fellows Program because she hopes to learn from other champions supporting the work of SEL in order to further the work within her district. Christine believes that SEL is critical as a foundation for all students and staff to grow and learn. She hopes that more training and information will create more confidence amongst staff in their ability to deliver proactive tier 1 SEL strategies and lessons that all students have access to.
Berrien RESA (MI)

Tiago Baltazar

Berrien RESA (MI)

Tiago Baltazar is a PBIS Coordinator at Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs, Michigan Besides developing systems of support, Tiago has worked as a school psychologist for the last 10 years. He enjoys helping schools develop systems that sustain a healthy, safe, and inclusive culture. Participating in the SEL Fellows Academy is a unique opportunity to grow alongside others who also value social and emotional learning and what it can do to maximize the well-being of our students and staff.
Colonial School District (DE)

Melanie Barbas

Colonial School District (DE)

Melanie Barbas is the Lead Teacher for Classroom Culture in the Colonial School District, in New Castle, Delaware. Prior to taking the role as Lead Teacher in 2017, Melanie spent eighteen years as a dually-certified teacher with experience in first, second and third grades. Melanie is looking forward to collaborating with leaders across the country as part of the SEL Fellows Academy. She is passionate about integrating social-emotional learning in equitable and trauma-informed ways to support success for all stakeholders in her school district.
Hopkinton Public Schools (MA)

Carla Burley

Hopkinton Public Schools (MA)

Carla Burley is the Director of Social Emotional Learning at Hopkinton Public Schools in Hopkinton Massachusetts. Carla is an advocate of well thought out planning, resourcing and implementation of social emotional learning. She is looking forward to learning and growing with the SEL Fellows community.
New Hanover County Schools (NC)

Susan Cole

New Hanover County Schools (NC)

Susan Cole is a School Psychologist and SEL Coordinator with New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, North Carolina. During her tenure with New Hanover County Schools she has served as a School Psychologist at the elementary, middle, and high school level as well as Behavior Specialist and Special Education Liaison. Her 17 year career with the district has largely focused on supporting the mental wellness and behavioral needs of students through collaboration with teachers, students, caregivers, and community providers. Susan is excited to join the 2022-2023 CASEL SEL Fellows Cohort and is looking forward to collaborating with other district leaders on systemic implementation of Social and Emotional Learning. She is very passionate about the opportunity to leverage social and emotional learning for educational equity and the comprehensive growth of students, staff, and stakeholders.
Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency (IA)

Courtney Cook

Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency (IA)

Courtney Cook is the Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health Coordinator at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in Northwest Iowa. Prior to this role Courtney was a 6-12 School Counselor and continues to support the profession as President-Elect of the Iowa School Counselor Association. Her career in Education also includes teaching Secondary English and she holds Master of Arts degrees in Counselor Education (Adams State University) and Educational Leadership & Policy Studies (University of Iowa). Courtney is most looking forward to collaborating with SEL Leaders across the country as part of the SEL Fellows Academy. She is passionate about social and emotional learning and understand the power SEL has in supporting our students' overall social-emotional-behavioral health and academic success.
San Ramon Valley USD (CA)

Jessica Coulson

San Ramon Valley USD (CA)

Jessica Coulson is the Coordinator for SEL + College & Career Readiness in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to this role, Jessica was a school counselor and a high school English teacher. Jessica is eager for opportunities to learn and collaborate in the SEL Fellows Academy. The learning in which she will engage and the connections she will make will strengthen the SEL initiatives she is working to support in service of the students, staff, and community of the SRVUSD. Jessica has experienced the transformative power of strong social emotional competencies, and hopes that her participation in the SEL Fellows Academy will provide her with even greater resources to assist her community in this work.
Fitchburg Public Schools (MA)

Roann Demanche

Fitchburg Public Schools (MA)

Roann Demanche, Fitchburg Public Schools
EASTCONN Regional Education Service Center (CT)

Jacquelyn DuBois

EASTCONN Regional Education Service Center (CT)

Dr. Jacquelyn DuBois is a Senior Educational and Behavioral Consultant in the Psychological and Behavioral Consultation Services Department of EASTCONN, a regional education service center in Connecticut. Dr. DuBois is also a licensed psychologist and Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Prior to her current role, Dr. DuBois completed her PhD in school psychology at Northeastern University and her doctoral internship at Devereux Center for Effective Schools. Dr. DuBois has experience in public school systems, community mental health, hospitals, and early intervention settings. In her current role, Dr. DuBois collaborates with public school districts to develop, implement, and evaluate multi-tiered systems of support to improve student mental health and social-emotional learning.
Monroe Township (NJ)

Stephanie Goldberg

Monroe Township (NJ)

Stephanie Goldberg is the Staff Development Coordinator at Monroe Township Public Schools, NJ Stephanie Goldberg, M.Ed. is a Staff Development Coordinator in Monroe Township, New Jersey and an educational consultant with her company called Teach 2 Teach, LLC. She works with her own district and others to present interactive workshops on educational topics and strategies, provides coaching and peer observations, and helps school districts develop and sustain their professional development programs. Most recently Stephanie’s efforts have been to help create a district vision and pathway toward Social and Emotional improvement. Some of Stephanie’s professional training includes a School Leadership Certificate in Social Emotional Learning and Instructional Coaching training through Coaching for Results Global. Stephanie is most excited about the SEL Fellows program to collaborate with others to learn about their school visions and action plans in terms of continuous SEL improvement.
Lane Education Service District (OR)

Angela Healow

Lane Education Service District (OR)

Angela Healow is the Social Emotional Learning Specialist at Lane Education Service District in Eugene, Oregon. Angela also serves as a founding member of SEL4OR and has had an integral part on the Oregon Department of Education SEL Advisory Board and the State Teacher Licensure SEL Committee. Prior to this role, Angela was the Social Emotional Learning TOSA in Beaverton School District where she facilitated the SEL department and was able to support SEL coaches in all 34 of the elementary buildings. She also was an elementary classroom teacher for 15 years before moving to the SEL role. Angela is most looking forward to learning from the the CASEL Fellow community on ways to better serve the rural communities of Oregon with SEL implementation. Angela is passionate about finding innovative ways to support adult SEL and wellness in all 16 of the school districts she serves.
Newport Mesa Unified School District (CA)

Kristen Henry

Newport Mesa Unified School District (CA)

Kristen Henry is the Coordinator of Mental Health & Wellness in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County, California., USA. Kristen is most looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from this community of SEL enthusiasts and experts. She is passionate about the proactive pursuit of systematic integration of social emotional learning and reverent of the positive impact experienced by the children and adults involved in the process.
Long Beach Unified School District (CA)

Rochelle Martin

Long Beach Unified School District (CA)

Rochelle Martin is the Transformative SEL Coordinator for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development in Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), California. Prior to this role Rochelle Martin was LBUSD’s Inclusion and Special Education Curriculum Leader as well as the Coordinator for the district's inclusive classrooms for students with disabilities. In these roles, she has worked to support administrators and teachers with creating equitable and inclusive learning environments that elevate each student's authentic self within their learning community. Mrs. Martin is excited about SEL Fellows because of the opportunity to learn and grow within an SEL community dedicated to building shared knowledge of Social Emotional Learning in theory and practice. She is passionate about SEL because schools are places where students must be empowered to share ideas, take risks, and question the world in which they live. Social Emotional Learning is not just about supporting students in developing their own competencies, but it is also about supporting them in developing themselves within community. She cannot wait to use this learning experience to guide and support implementation within LBUSD schools.
Nassau BOCES (NY)

Audre Midura

Nassau BOCES (NY)

Audre Midura is the Supervisor of Community School Partnerships, Mental Health Education and Social Emotional Learning for Nassau BOCES. Prior to this role Audre worked in the Student Support Services Department and for 13 years was a Principal/Director of a Career and Technical High School. Audre is passionate about the social emotional learning and the importance of positive student adult relationships as they are the key to student success, engagement and fulfillment. Audre looks forward to her SEL Fellows program as it will allow her to share CASELs resources, research and materials to the school districts in Nassau County.
Fayette County Public Schools (KY)

Raine Minichan

Fayette County Public Schools (KY)

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Minichan received a BA in history from Transylvania University and a Master's Degree in Social Work as well as a Rank I in School Social Work from the University of Kentucky. Raine brings 18 years of experience working with children, youth, and their families. She began her career providing clinical mental health services to children and adolescents with emotional and behavior disorders before transitioning to full-time practice providing therapeutic services and advocacy for child/adolescent victims of sexual abuse. After working in the clinical field, Minichan made the move to serve students and families in a more proactive manner and found her niche combining her first love-- education-- with her second love-- pediatric mental health. Prior to assuming her current position in December of last year, Raine has served as an FRC Coordinator at Dixie Elementary, a Child Guidance Specialist at Lansdowne Elementary, a Student Success Coach at Northern Elementary, a District Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Coach, and a co-coordinator for mental health services. She has also spent several years as an adjunct instructor of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work graduate program. Through each of these roles Raine's passion for helping students has evolved into a mission to develop systemic, responsive supports and structures to ensure the success of all students. Raine currently serves Fayette County Public Schools students as the Associate Director of Student Support Services, Mental Health, & Social Emotional Learning.
Astoria School District 1C (OR)

Jenni Newton

Astoria School District 1C (OR)

Jenni Newton is the SEL Coordinator for Astoria School District in Astoria, Oregon. After completing her doctorate focused on SEL and secondary public schools, she moved to a district role in developing a sustainable transformative SEL framework for the small district. Dr. Newton is most looking forward to networking with colleagues around the nation to holistically support PreK-12 learning environments that develop curiosity, compassion, and lifelong learning. Jenni feels most passionately about advancing equity in curriculum, actions, and systems as a critical tool in belonging and understanding others.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VA)

Angelyn Nichols

Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VA)

Angelyn Nichols leads the division SEL Implementation Team, the AASA SEL Impact Grant, and serves as a Coordinator in the Office of Professional Growth and Innovation at Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia. A teacher at heart, Mrs. Nichols’s passion for SEL, equity, and innovation have been threaded throughout her 20+ years in education. She has worked in California, Nevada, and Virginia as a gifted resource teacher in grades K-8, an English and writing teacher in grades 6-12, and the Community Outreach and Curriculum Coordinator in Nevada. Mrs. Nichols’s purpose is to connect with the hearts and minds of educators and advocate for SEL so that we each learn and work in environments that nurture belonging, foster equity, and empower excellence.
Kalamazoo Public Schools (MI)

Shannon Parlato

Kalamazoo Public Schools (MI)

Shannon Parlato is a district Culture and Climate Coach for Kalamazoo Public Schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Shannon directs the Social Emotional Learning Center for Kalamazoo Public Schools. She played an instrumental role in its creation. Shannon has twenty years of experience in the classroom and understands the positive impact social emotional learning can have in the classroom, a school and community. Shannon is most looking forward to learning about how other districts are implementing SEL and sharing ideas for success. Shannon is passionate about social and emotional learning because it helps address the needs of the whole child, as well as teaches life long skills for future success.
Bellevue School District (WA)

Randi Peterson

Bellevue School District (WA)

Randi Peterson is one of the Social Emotional Learning & Health Curriculum Developers in Bellevue School District in Bellevue, WA. Prior to this role Randi served as an elementary classroom teacher and elementary instructional coach in Bellevue. Randi has earned (and renewed) her National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist. Randi is most looking forward to connecting with others to help the advancement of SEL to ensure that each student (and adult) are able to build the skills necessary for success in life.
Lake Washington School District (WA)

Charlotte Plouse

Lake Washington School District (WA)

Charlotte Plouse is a K-12 Student Services Specialist at Lake Washington School District in Redmond, Washington. Prior to this role Charlotte was a classroom teacher and professional learning coach. Specialist Plouse is excited to partner with the SEL Fellows Academy to collaboratively examine transformative social emotional learning implementation. Ms. Plouse realizes the power of social emotional learning to ensure equitable access to opportunities, enhance well-being, and create communities where each adult and student thrives!
Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD#102 (IL)

Eli Rogers

Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD#102 (IL)

Eli Rogers is the District Coordinator of SEL and Family Engagement for Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD#102 in Buffalo Grove, IL. Eli previously served as a school psychologist, assistant principal, principal, and student services coordinator in D102. Eli is passionate about social emotional learning and mental health and strongly believes that educators can serve a unique and powerful role as protective factors for students. Eli is looking forward to connecting with and learning from colleagues through the SEL Fellows Academy.
Merrimack School District (NH)

Fern Seiden

Merrimack School District (NH)

Fern Seiden, M.S.W., is the Director of Student Wellness for the Merrimack School District, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Prior to assuming this position, she was a School Counselor for 17 years. During the past seven years, as a member of the District Mental Health Committee, she worked on a district team establish a trauma-informed System of Care across the district. In 2020, a role dedicated to SEL and wellness was established in Merrimack, and Fern is thrilled to have made the transition to support the innovative work being done to support the social-emotional wellbeing of children and families there. As a part of the SEL Fellows program, Fern is most looking forward to belonging to a professional learning community dedicated to SEL and to deepening her understanding and awareness of SEL leadership. Fern has been passionate about social and emotional learning since she began her work as a school counselor. She believes that when schools fully integrate SEL with an equity focus, they have the potential to play a central role in the healthy and holistic development of young people, influencing positive outcomes for young people and their communities.
St. Paul Public Schools (MN)

Angel Thomas

St. Paul Public Schools (MN)

Angel Thomas is the School Support Supervisor and SEL Lead at Saint Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before this role, she was a School Support Coach and Middle School English Language Arts teacher. Angel understands the immediate and long-term impacts of intentionally and consciously prioritizing culturally relevant and equitable Social Emotional Learning in life and educational communities. Angel is excited about SEL Fellows because she knows that when you know better, you do better, and she understands the importance of building trusting and collaborative relationships. SEL Fellows will provide abundant knowledge, growth, and experience.
Chicago Public Schools (IL)

Cynthia Treadwell

Chicago Public Schools (IL)

Dr. Cynthia Treadwell is the Executive Director for the Office of Social and Emotional Learning for Chicago Public Schools. She served as the Principal of Ira F. Aldridge Elementary and has been a dedicated educator for the past 21 years with Chicago Public Schools. She has been a school leader for the past 10 years fulfilling the role of an Assistant Principal and Principal. She has worked as a classroom teacher, Reading Specialist/Coach, and District Literacy Specialist. During her tenure as an educator, Cynthia has had the opportunity to teach courses as an Adjunct Instructor at Chicago State University and DePaul University. Cynthia currently holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from National Louis University with a Superintendent endorsement. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Chicago State University. Cynthia is excited about SEL Fellows because it creates an opportunity for her to learn alongside other provocative thinkers that believe in the effectiveness of social and emotional learning. She is looking forward to collaborating with educators, sharing ideas and solving complex social and emotional challenges that hinder school systems. Believing passionately in the power of education to expand human potential, transform lives, and shape new visions for leading and learning in a globally complex world is what drives Cynthia. She believes this core value is a necessary catalyst for promoting rich socially and emotionally learning ecosystems where every stakeholder is impacted positively.
El Dorado County, Office of Education (CA)

Mary Jo Verbitsky

El Dorado County, Office of Education (CA)

Mary Jo Verbitsky is the Coordinator of Professional Development at the El Dorado County Office of Education in Placerville, CA. Prior to this position Mary Jo taught for 22 years in an alternative education program. She is excited about the opportunity to collaborate and learn from educators in other states during the SEL Fellows Academy and to share that learning with the educators and community she serves. Mary Jo believes that social emotional learning is the foundation for wellness and has witnessed the power of SEL in both her personal and professional life.

Meet the Inaugural 2021 Allstate Foundation Cohort of SEL Fellows

Lesley Backofen

Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 (IL)

My background in social and emotional learning extends to after school programs and camp settings 30 years ago. As an educator, my experience as a Special Education Teacher and an Interventionist focused on developing relationships with students and families to support the whole child.

Larissa Bennett

School District of Manatee County (FL)

Soon after starting my teaching career, I realized my passion was not in teaching academics but helping students realize their potential. I became a school counselor to do just that and now I continue this work by helping our teachers learn about the importance of SEL in our schools as our district’s School Climate Coordinator.

David Blahowicz

Greece Central School District (NY)

I have spent 16 years in the district as a Special Education Teacher, Interventionist, and Teacher Leader. During my tenure, I have worked to develop and implement a 5-year plan for SEL, RtI, Professional Learning, as well as facilitated a committee to write the Greece CSD’s Strategic Plan.

Melissa Bostwick

Alpine School District (UT)

I am K-12 Director of Social and Emotional Well-being. I completed undergrad at University of Connecticut, a Master’s degree in School Psychology from Bucknell University and second Master’s in Educational Leadership from Brigham Young University.

Travis Bracht

Affton School District (MO)

I am the superintendent of the Affton School District in St. Louis. In 2016, I identified SEL as one of three strategic plan focus areas along with academic excellence and creative problem solving. My career began in 1998 as a high school science teacher and has included various school and district-level administrative positions.

Matt Cretsinger

Marshalltown Community School District (IA)

I have been the Director of Special Services since 2012. I began my educational career as a School Psychologist before moving into educational leadership roles. Prior to my career in education, I served as a clinician for a mental health center, Program Director for a psychiatric medical institute for children.

Amanda Deeter

Montgomery County Educational Service Center (OH)

I am a Social Emotional Learning Specialist at Montgomery County Educational Service Center in Dayton. I am also a Professional Clinical Counselor that specializes with children and adolescents. Currently I provide professional development on a range of topics related to creating Trauma Informed/SEL Integrated learning environments, coaches administrators/staff on integrating SEL/TI practices and curriculum development.

Stacey Dupre

East Baton Rouge Parish School System (LA)

I supervise the department/programs under the Division of Student Support which includes: Child Welfare and Attendance, School Counselors, Health Centers in Schools/School Nurses, ICARE, MTSS/SEL, Social Workers, 504, and Truancy Assessment Service Center. I hold a Bachelor of General Studies, Master of Education, and Education Specialist from Louisiana State University and A&M College. I am a National Certified Counselor and a National Certified School Counselor.

Patrick Farrell

Charlottesville City Schools (VA)

I am currently the Intervention and Support Supervisor for Charlottesville City Schools. I have over 20 years experience as a special education teacher and administrator as well as division leadership in mental wellness, MTSS, PBIS, and federal programs. I am married with two sons and a very opinionated dog.

Rachelle Finck

Taylor Independent School District (TX)

I just started a position with Taylor ISD after serving as Coordinator for Social and Emotional Learning in the Round Rock Independent School District. In the last five years, I have coordinated a district-wide initiative on integrating social and emotional learning best practices across 56 schools and worked to expand understanding of social & emotional learning, restorative practices, and integrating best practices for whole-child education.

Hector Garcia

Community Consolidated School District 181 (IL)

I am Superintendent of Community Consolidated School District 181, serving grades PreK-8, outside of Chicago. During my more than 27 years of work in public education, I have been a District administrator, principal, and history teacher. I have led multiple curricular improvements and professional development initiatives across the spectrum of socio-economic schools and have been a part of some of America’s highest performing schools.

Dau Jok

Des Moines Public Schools (IA)

I am a former Division I basketball captain, non-profit director, and company commander in the United States Reserve. I currently serve as the SEL Coordinator for Des Moines (IA) Public Schools and hold a bachelors degree in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, Masters of Science in Global Leadership from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a PhD in Education from Drake University. I seek to humanize my studies and life experiences to enhance the spaces I occupy.

Rena Keith

Johnston County Public Schools (NC)

I am a Licensed Professional School Counselor serving Johnston County Public Schools in Smithfield, North Carolina. As a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist, my professional experiences include community mental health, special education, and school counseling. My passion is supporting and encouraging others through authentic relationships. I believe that seeing, hearing, and valuing individuals ensures the greatness as a collective whole.

Jeanette Koh

Walnut Valley Unified School District (CA)

I have experience leading a school as a principal, leading colleagues as a staff developer, and leading educational services with district-wide initiatives as Administrative Director in Educational Services. In all those capacities, I have been in my element; as Sir Ken Robinson described, the element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. I feel grateful that my 29 years in education have afforded me to be in my element, where I love what I do because supporting others and building them up brings me joy.

Sara Lein

West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (MN)

I have been an educator for over 30 years, working in schools in southern California, North Dakota, and Minnesota. I am currently the Director of Special Services in an inner tier suburb of St. Paul/ Minneapolis. I am also the founding director of a nonprofit organization supporting a school in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. I lead my district’s social and emotional learning efforts and oversees special education services.

Tricia Kling

Downey Unified School District (CA)

A Californian educator, I have served as a teacher, counselor, adjunct professor, school psychologist, consultant and SEL coordinator for over 25 years. I received my doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Educational Psychology through USC. I am passionate about leveraging SEL to address the needs of the whole child. I strive to build uplifting relationships that efficaciously espouse social emotional learning and create thriving cultures.

James Magee

South Washington County Schools (MN)

Connie McCarley

Walnut Creek School District (CA)

I am the Assistant Director of Educational Support Services for the Walnut Creek School District. Previously, I served as principal at three different schools including as founding principal of Tice Creek School, a K-8 public opt-in Project Based Learning School, where SEL was embedded as a critical component to the learning program. I am proud to lead the WCSD in the implementation of SEL across all schools and all settings.

Jorge Melgoza

Mount Diablo Unified School District (CA)

I am an educational leader who has worked in the field of education for over 30 years and noticed that a majority of administrators rarely receive support understanding and analyzing the harmful effects of institutional racism. Over the years I have developed a framework designed specifically for administrators to develop the skills, mindset and dispositions necessary to interrupt the impact of institutional racism and become the bold and courageous leaders we need today.

Kristine Morris

Union Elementary School District #62 (AZ)

I have spent over 25 years serving students and families in public schools throughout the Valley. I am a champion for all children, with experience as a teacher, principal, county level leader, district administrator, and Superintendent of Union Elementary School District #62. My leadership, communication, collaboration, and student-centered beliefs ensures Union ESD inspires hope and empowers all children to courageously pursue their goals and dreams.

Catherine Murray

Batavia Public School District 101 (IL)

I started my educational career as a school social worker in 2012 in the western suburbs of Chicago, and soon after found my passion for SEL and committed to building social emotional skills beyond my caseload. Currently an Assistant Director of Student Services in Batavia, Illinois, I am thrilled to join a community of leaders focused on comprehensive SEL implementation for students, staff and adults to learn and grow.

Mai Nguyen

Buffalo Public Schools (NY)

I have diverse experience as a K-12 Educator, having taught every grade, K-12, as a NYS Certified Health and Physical Education Teacher in rural, urban, and suburban settings at private, public, and charter schools. I transitioned into Educational Leadership, first serving as the Carol M. White PEP Grant Director for the Pembroke/Alexander CSD and then into my current role as the Director of Social, Emotional and Wellness for the Buffalo Public Schools.

Kris Norelius

Olympia School District (WA)

I am an SEL Instructional Coach for the Olympia School District in Olympia, Washington, where my husband and I enjoy the beauty and outdoor opportunities of the Pacific Northwest. I am a former social worker and school counselor. One of my greatest joys is collaborating with educators as they develop tools to elevate social emotional learning to its rightful place in the educational setting.

Mary Reed

Sacramento County Office of Education (CA)

I am a licensed clinical social worker and former classroom teacher, currently working in school-based mental health and wellness. I have worked at the school and district level to train and coach the implementation of various multi-tiered systems of support, My passion lies in supporting educators in realizing and embracing their power in creating communities of belonging within their schools and classrooms, and ensuring that ALL students feel safe, welcome, and included in their school communities.

Martina Rush

Marion County School District (SC)

This fall will mark the beginning of my 29th year as an educator. After more than two decades serving students, I will take the lead as Marion County School District’s Director of Student Services in July 2021. As a veteran educator, I plan to use my experience to help students look to school as a place where they can be educated, prepared and inspired in a safe, caring and equitable environment.

Melissa Spadin

San Diego County Office of Education (CA)

I am the Director, System of Supports at the San Diego County Office of Education where I support local education agencies in LCAP development, Differentiated Assistance, MTSS, SEL implementation, and measurement. I have worked on NAEP, state assessments, and served on the National Task Force for Assessment Education and the CCSSO FAST SCASS. I began my career in education as a high school English and Theatre teacher, forensics coach, and Theatre Director.

Daniel Shapiro

Broward County Public Schools (FL)

I have served for 25 years as a teacher, school counselor, mentor, and district leader. I received the National Board Teacher Certification in early adolescence/ English language arts, a master’s degree in school counseling, and received a doctoral degree in education with a specialization in instructional leadership. I also received the Florida Governor’s Shine Award for inspirational teaching and was named the Broward County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2014 and the 2015 Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) Elementary School Counselor of the Year.

Reyna Texler

North Rockland Central School District (NY)

I currently serve as an SEL Teacher and SEL Lead for the North Rockland School District. With over 25 years of teaching experience, I am an alum of the Transformative Educational Leadership Program (TEL), a Mindfulness Coach & Yoga Instructor for children, & founder of Ruby Sneakers Consulting. I am a recipient of the 2021 Marvin Mauer Award from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence & facilitate interactive workshops for families and educators both locally and nationally.

Katie Willard

Waltham Public Schools (MA)

I currently serve as the Assistant Director of School Counseling PK-12 for the Waltham Public Schools, and I have a wide variety of clinical experience. In my role as Assistant Director of School Counseling PK-12, I am responsible for the creation and implementation of a District-Wide SEL Learning Plan. Since beginning the role, I have worked to foster a collaborative adult learning environment that promotes social-emotional wellness, to provide adults with professional development in the area, to identify an evidence-based approach to SEL, and has improved community partnerships.

Mary T. Schmitz

Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools (MN)

As a LICSW & Educational Leader, 29 years integrating wellness & social change in schools, humbly, countless drops feed this ocean! I’m an Inaugural, Transformative Educational Leadership (TEL) Alum; endorsed UMASS Medical MBSR Teacher; & Certified Yoga Calm National Teacher-Trainer. I’m a granddaughter of immigrants & illegal, interracial-marriage and daughter of parents who endured a 9-year-courtship to wed interracially, legally in 1964. Transformative Social and Emotional Learning becomes real as it’s lived, thus, my privilege and responsibility to serve and grow in this capacity.

Sarah Wood

Encinitas Union School District (CA)

I created and currently implement an explicit SEL program, T.R.A.C., in the Encinitas Union School District in Encinitas, CA. I am a former classroom teacher and parenting educator. I have a BA in Anthropology from UCSD, and am completing my MA in SEL from National University. I live in Encinitas with my husband, 4 sons, and 2 dogs.

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