The focus was on Social and Emotional Learning, as an official from the New Jersey Department of Education visited Westfield High School on Jan. 11 for a briefing on the ways SEL is incorporated across the district.
WHS principal Dr. Derrick Nelson welcomed Andre Taylor, a representative from the office that oversees the SEL initiative at the NJDOE. Taylor observed a session of the high school Transition Program after receiving an overview from teachers Antony Farag and Bailey Verdone who are advisors for the yearlong program through which junior and senior peer leaders help their freshmen schoolmates adjust to high school.
The state official heard from K-12 English Language Arts supervisor Dr. Tiffany Jacobson and physical education coordinator Beverly Torok about how the New Jersey SEL competencies -- self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills -- are woven into district curriculum.
Taylor, who said Westfield Public Schools is “ahead of the curve” in building the social and emotional competencies of its students, viewed two segments of a TED-style Talk series the district is producing to help explain SEL to the community. He also met with Maureen Mazzarese, director of guidance and counseling for the district, who emphasized the many ways social and emotional learning is part of the everyday education in Westfield schools.
“This is a district that has recognized the whole student and student wellness for many years,” Mazzarese said.