Supporting, Connecting, and Empowering Schools
Spotlight Schools
West Brook School District featured at the Bergen SSN on February 6, 2020
We were very pleased to welcome West Brook Middle School in Paramus as the first Bergen County School Support Network Spotlight School. What a fabulous job they did! Dr. Deirdre Spollen-LaRaia and her team shared their experience over the last 18 months in bringing a data-driven approach to intentional school climate improvement. The presentation was not only gorgeous, but it was also inspiring and full of useful tips and examples of the impact a targeted coordinated approach can have on key drivers of both staff and student climate. Their focus included effective discipline policies as well as a re-branding of the school! West Brook Middle School has been participating in the three year School Climate Assessment and Improvement Process (SCAIP) offered by the School Culture and Climate Initiative
Ironia Elementary School featured at the Morris SSN on February 12, 2020
The Spotlight School this month was the school climate team and administration of Ironia Elementary School of Randolph - the presentation was engaging, powerful, impressive and inspiring! The team shared their mission to explore their "why" and demonstrated how collaborative leadership connects all their efforts. Three specific strategies highlighted were: Building Teacher Voice, Sharing Big Ideas and Focusing On Annual Themes. Most importantly the camaraderie and authentic collaborative leadership was abundantly clear in how they simply 'were'. Through these efforts Ironia has been successful in creating an environment of trust, support and connection. Thank you, Ironia Elementary, for this excellent presentation. Please see the resources (including the wonderful Trevor Muir Soccer kid video!) and further information below:
If you are interested in having your school featured as a “Spotlight School” to share best practices at a future SSN Meeting, please email Liz Warner .
Upcoming Events
School Climate Assessment and Improvement Process (SCAIP)
Professional Learning Community (PLC)

March 25, 2020 - 9:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Winston S. Churchill School
233 Fairfield Road, Fairfield, NJ
All school levels (elementary, middle and high school) participating in the SCAIP 3-year process are encouraged to attend (including those just beginning year 1, currently in years 2 or 3, or have completed the 3-year process). This is an excellent opportunity for schools at all stages of the process to have their questions answered and share insights with others while connecting in a dynamic professional learning community. For schools who have completed the process this is an excellent opportunity to share how they are sustaining their work   on school climate as well as an opportunity to mentor schools just beginning the process.  Click here to read more and register.
Earn a Certificate in Instruction for Social-Emotional and Character Development 

April 20 and 21, 2020 
College of Saint Elizabeth, Saint Joseph's Conference Room 
2 Convent Road, Morristown, NJ 
Cost: $398 (attendance is required for both days) 

The Academy for SEL in Schools - a partnership of Rutgers University’s Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) Lab and the Center for Human and Social Development at the College of Saint Elizabeth - is offering an opportunity for educators to take the first two courses in a three-course series that can lead to a Certificate in Instruction for Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development.

Funding/Grant Opportunities
Sustainable Jersey for Schools has funding available for school climate work made possible through the support of the PSEG foundation.  Click here for more information.

This grant cycle of the 2020 Schools Grants Program will award:
  • Four (4) $10,000 project grants to school districts or schools
  • Thirty (30) $2,000 grants to support school green teams

Online Application Deadline: March 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
Apply Now for Grants to Support SEL in Action
The NoVo Foundation SEL in Action Fund offers up to $7,000 for educators and up to $25,000 for districts and charters.

Education First, in partnership with the NoVo Foundation, seeks applications for educator-led and district-level projects that foster social and emotional learning (SEL) skills in students in grades PK-12. 

Applications will be accepted through April 10, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
State Updates
Murphy announces $6M of funding for youth mental health initiatives
By Sam Sutton, 02/11/2020 12:55 PM EST

Gov. Phil Murphy is drawing on his administration’s annual allocation of $100 million for opioid addiction-related initiatives to provide $6 million of funding for youth mental health programs.

The new funding, which Murphy announced during a press conference today at Maple Shade High School, will back a state Department of Human Services partnership with the National Council of Behavioral Health to provide Mental Health First Aid training at K-12 schools and institutes of higher education. 

The state Department of Education is also going to develop a youth mental health working group to come up new strategies for school and mental health providers to support students.

The NJ DoE has recently published the first SEL module for educators. Be sure to read the extensive notes section at the bottom of every slide. This is a wonderful resource for all educators in the state. Following is an excerpt from the website:

Modules 2-6: Coming Soon!

Check out their website for other free resources, articles and lesson plans.
Featured Article
Although “Random Acts of Kindness Day” is officially recognized on February 17th, we can create schools and classrooms where gestures of kindness, both big and small, are encouraged and celebrated every day of the year. This month’s featured article talks about how kindness impacts school climate and how we can deepen our efforts to emphasize kindness and keep the momentum going even on the days when it’s tough to be kind. For additional ideas on how to start a kindness movement in your classroom, check out some of the new kindness-related resources in this month’s newsletter. 
Resources and Links - The Academy for SEL in Schools, a partnership between Rutgers University and the College of Saint Elizabeth, offers certificate programs for educators and educational leaders in social-emotional and character development.
SEL4NJ  - SEL4NJ is a grassroots movement that brings together institutions, organizations and community members to form one strong voice advocating for SEL. Please join us!
The University of Southern California, School of Social Work, compiled this toolkit in order to help groups navigate through and have productive conversations about diversity and identity in social relationships. The toolkit contains a variety of activities intended for groups of 10 to 60 but activities can be modified for larger groups. Facilitators should be familiar with the topics and themes but do not need to be experts!
Make the Case for SEL
Do you need to “make the case” to bring social and emotional learning into your school? No need to reinvent the wheel. CASEL has developed a  PPT deck  that defines SEL, summarizes the impact and offers tools/resources for high-quality implementation. This PPT deck is available at no charge and can be customized to your needs and audience.
This publication, created by Rand Corporation, provides helpful advice about how Title I, Title II and Title IV funds can all be used to support SEL and school climate work. 
Need Assistance with a School Climate Survey?
The School Climate Assessment Lab (Lab), which is part of the School Culture and Climate Initiative, offers a variety of reliable and useful tools along with data analysis and reporting, and assistance with interpreting the data for action planning. If you are seeking a school climate survey to use in the coming year, the Lab can assist you with administration of the School Culture and Climate Assessment Survey for students and staff (online or paper; English or Spanish); data analysis and a customized data report; and an in-person data review to discuss findings, strengths and opportunities for growth. For those schools seeking additional support in addressing those opportunities for growth, consider participating in the School Climate Assessment and Improvement Process (SCAIP), a three-year individualized school improvement process. SCAIP includes all of the Lab services mentioned but also offers additional guidance and support from a school climate expert. To learn more about the Lab or SCAIP, contact Patricia Heindel, Ph.D. , Co-Director of the School Culture and Climate Initiative.  
The School Culture and Climate Initiative is based at the Center for Human and Social Development at the College of Saint Elizabeth
For questions about SSN meetings, contact Liz Warner
For questions about or difficulty with registration, contact Leighann Garland