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Emotional Smarts Can Bridge Understanding
Posted by 108f on October 10, 2016 · Flag
In the aftermath of a city thrust into the national spotlight following a tragedy that is all too familiar across our country, rays of promise and hope are illuminating a path toward reconciliation and a deeper call to action in the Charlotte community. WINGS is one of the many examples of how adults are coming together to help youth learn how to become positive, empathic, compassionate and productive citizens.
Now in our third year in Charlotte, WINGS serves close to 300 elementary age students at Bruns Academy and Walter G. Byers Elementary School, teaching social and emotional learning to elementary age kids, Monday through Friday, 15 hours per week.The launch of the WINGS program at Byers, the second school to host the WINGS Program, was celebrated in fanfare on October 5th by Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte Hornets’ forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, representatives from the Charlotte Mecklenburg School’s Superintendent’s Office, Project LIFT, Cops and Barbers, funders, and many others.
Earnest Winston, Chief of Staff in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School’s Office of the Superintendent noted: “Recent events have made it even clearer than ever that social and emotional learning skills are a critical aspect in developing students into sensitive and caring adults. WINGS has plans to expand in the future and all of us at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools welcome the opportunity to expand this program. It is an important resource for our schools and our students.”
This coming together of community leaders and funders signals the belief adults have that social and emotional learning (SEL) could perhaps be the missing link in the educational journey of youth, particularly those who are the most marginalized. How do we know? Well, more and more research is shedding light on the impact emotional smarts has in helping kids become more attached to school, improve behavior and increase their academic performance. And yes, these findings our consistent with WINGS’ outcomes here in the city of Charlotte and nationally.
Have you heard the old adage “kids should be seen and not heard?” Well, I did, more times than I want to remember, growing up as a child and it always left me with the feeling of why didn’t adults want to hear my thoughts or know what I was feeling. Unfortunately, that happens far too often inside and outside of the classroom where, perhaps, a child’s unrest is the result of stressful life circumstances but he or she is expected to conform to classroom norms by sitting quietly, paying attention and concentrating on the academic content. But how can a kid be expected to do this if the emotional barometer is off balance?
WINGS purposefully aims to create empathetic, supportive and healthy environments where kids feel good about themselves, are understood, care for and respect others, thus, becoming more attached to adults, seeking positive attention and affirmation. Building a culture fueled with social and emotional pedagogy allows students to feel valued, respected and emotionally supported which in turn helps them become better, more engaged lovers of learning and exhibit appropriate behaviors both inside and outside of the classroom.
Perhaps Mayor Jennifer Roberts summed it up best in her words to WINGS kids during the ceremony: “It is important to have more learning beyond just the books. Your world can be better than our world. We want more peace, we want more shared prosperity, we want less division, we want less anger, and we want people to be treated equally. And our community is having a big discussion about that. You are getting the skills in this program to be a part of this.”
Let’s think about this. The investments we make as early as possible in the lives of youth increases exponentially the possibilities of bright futures, including the attainment of post-secondary education. We all know the cost of being imprisoned far outweighs the cost of going to college. Coming together to celebrate the success of WINGS kids is an example of adults who care for the future of our kids to ensure the former. In the words of Frederick Douglas: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” WINGS looks forward to soaring into a third school site next year as part of the expansion plan for Charlotte.
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commented 2016-11-13 09:02:51 -0500
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commented 2016-10-15 22:42:02 -0400
Yes 3rd Grade Girls and Boys ! Soar high and fly! Proud of ya! -Ms.Garcia , WINGSLeader @ Walter G Byers, Charlotte NC