Waco ISD strives to take proactive approach to address social-emotional needs of students

Posted at 8:36 AM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 09:36:15-04

WACO, TX — Current events like the coronavirus pandemic and the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans are real-world examples of experiences that can be traumatic for children to deal with.

That's where school counselors play a vital role in attending to the social-emotional needs of a child.

"It really does just come back to emphasizing the belonging that is necessary to feel connected and respected," Dr. Warren told 25 News that is where school counselors are able to customize services for students based on their individual needs.

Dr. Rachelle Warren is the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Support at Waco Independent School District.

With so much negativity making headlines from politics reaching a boiling point to hate crimes targeting innocent people, it can leave an impression on children.

Waco ISD one of many school districts that are taking a proactive approach to addressing the social-emotional needs of their students.

It's a big day for these little students at Kendrick Elementary School in Waco.

These young scholars are learning about the importance of filling up other people's buckets with positivity.

"I write you're nice," said second-grader Crystal Resendez.

They are working together in small groups, brainstorming on how to spread kindness.

"I wrote you're the best and we wrote to Mr. Alexander," second-grader Chyna White explained.

Each handwritten note comes straight from the heart.

It's part of Social Emotional Learning, an integral part of child development, something that's a huge part of the school counselor, Dina Hoffman's job.

"At this age, I really feel like I'm just planting seeds, along with parents and teachers. We're all working together to plant seeds to help children grow to be the best people that they can be," Hoffman said.

To deliver their carefully written messages, they journey through the hallowed halls in search of the grown-up who most stands out in their young minds as someone who is the shining example of showing kindness to others.

This time, they picked the school secretary, Ms. Alonso.

"That's so sweet! Thank you for making my day!" Alonso reacted while clutching the handwritten note.

Others ended up in the principal's office and this time that's a good thing.

"Thank you for filling my bucket today!" Principal Isabel Lozano said while hugging two little girls who delivered a note to her office.

"We want to focus on the positive and not the negative on our campus," Lozano said.

In doing so, students are learning how to manage emotions, to reach personal and group goals by working together and showing empathy.

"We're here for each other, to build each other up," Hoffman shared. "Before you go to bed you can say, 'did I fill a bucket today?"

A life lesson for all ages.

Social-Emotional Learning is embraced in each grade level at Waco ISD, impacting the nearly 15,000 students currently enrolled in the district.