The mission of SEL4MA is to advance and support effective social-emotional learning practices in all schools and communities in the state of Massachusetts. In their work with teachers and administrators, they often hear about educators across the Commonwealth who are passionate about implementing and integrating SEL in their districts. SEL4MA’s goal is to help serve as a megaphone, amplifying the great work being done by leaders in SEL throughout the state.
The following post is the first in their new Massachusetts SEL Community Highlights interview series, in which the SEL4MA Communications Committee spoke with Bill Burkhead, Principal of Monomoy Regional High School and recipient of the 2018 Massachusetts Principal of the Year award.
SEL4MA: Can you give an overview of some of the work that the district has been doing with regards to social and emotional learning specifically?
Bill Burkhead: Our overarching philosophy is that our school is like a home away from home for students, where they are treated uniquely and with care. We believe that students must be emotionally stable and supported to feel safe at school. We have been trying to do that from the get-go at Monomoy.
One of the first initiatives we rolled out was a very small one: we created a wall that had a picture of each student pasted on it, with their name below it, and teachers wrote one positive thing about each student and added onto a big index card. The kids came into school and were completely surprised. Parents coming into the building would see it and get to see what the students’ teachers said about them. The students then organically started their own wall with pictures of all the adults in the building with positive comments. That small wall epitomizes our philosophy here and shows how enthusiasm is free and contagious.