October 22, 2021

Staff, Students Benefit from Social-Emotional Learning in Jackson, Tennessee


Daphne Johnson, Physical Education and Health Consultant at Jackson-Madison County School System, understands the importance of social-emotional learning in student and staff health, especially during the 2020-2021 school year. As the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges in virtual learning, such as isolation from peers, Johnson recognized the need for social-emotional learning resources that staff could utilize in their busy schedules.  

In Harmony SEL’s resources, Johnson found quality, user-friendly tools, and ideas that helped Jackson-Madison County staff focus on “connecting to the students before teaching the skills and concepts.” Teachers and students connected by choosing emoji signs to designate their level of anxiety, and practicing “mindful minutes” before and after lessons. This “connection before content” approach reached approximately 12,000 students across 13 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 5 high schools throughout the district. 

“The climate is changing,” Johnson says. 

School environments have benefitted from the emphasis on social-emotional learning through stronger and more meaningful relationships, reports Johnson, noting that students are more well-adjusted and less impulsive. Older students have shown growth in social-emotional awareness, showing their ability to be more forgiving and patient with each other. 

“Both staff and students are more aware of the power of their words and actions in helping others to overcome social and emotional challenges,” says Johnson. “Students have developed vocabulary that allows them to express their emotions more accurately and readily.” 

For 15 years, Healthier Generation has worked with schools to support students to develop lifelong healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health. Healthier Generation uses an evidence-based approach to help schools and districts adopt policies and practices that result in healthier, happier students. Since 2019, Healthier Generation has partnered with Harmony SEL to help schools and districts connect social-emotional learning and wellness to foster healthier classrooms and communities. 

Access Harmony’s free social-emotional health resources in the Healthier Generation Action Center.