Washington Social Emotional Learning

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We are SELebrating International SEL Day!

We gathered some thoughts of why SEL is important: 

"Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an important element to understanding how children, youth, and adults move in this world and relate to others. SEL is grounded in research and best practices for nurturing children and youth so that everyone can be their best selves on this Planet Earth."

SEL celebrates diversity. When done correctly, it is an equitable tool in every space that fosters learning and personal development."

Maria Jacob
Member of the SEL Advisory Committee

Diversity Quote-Maya Angelou

"The increased emphasis on SEL in my high school career has not only served to remind me of the importance of personal skill building and community, but sparks courageous conversations regarding more complex social topics that students are eager to have.”

Ivy Pete,
Junior at North Central Spokane

Paper cutout holding hands

"Teaching, learning & practicing SEL skills at every age has the power to change a person’s life! Prioritizing opportunities to grow student and adult social emotional skills strengthens our abilities to recognize & regulate emotions, manage behaviors, build relationships, make healthy decisions, solve problems, achieve goals and most importantly, learn & grow. The stronger our social emotional skill sets throughout our lifetimes the more resilient we can & will be when we encounter the beautifully diverse ups and downs life has to offer."

Dr. Mona Johnson, CPP

Executive Director of Wellness and Support, South Kitsap School District

Goal Setting

"While there are many positive aspects of SEL that I could talk about, one that I believe is especially important is the impact on classroom and school environments when the adults in a school understand the importance of developing positive relationships with kids. As a former teacher and school principal, I have come to understand the critical role that trusting and affirming adult-student relationships play in facilitating student learning. When students feel emotionally safe, as well as physically safe, they can focus on learning. When kids know that their teachers care about them, they will take risks in learning. When they don’t feel like they are liked, they won’t take those risks. For many, and in my opinion most students, no risk means no learning."

Sheila Gerrish, Ed.D.

Learning Assistance Program Supervisor

"I think what is most important about SEL is approaching each student from an asset- or strengths-based frame instead of a deficit-frame. Focusing on what they aspire to and bring with them (intellectually, culturally, experientially, etc.) instead of (unintentionally) stigmatizing them for perceived deficiencies within an individual that we must ‘fix’ through education."

Kim Reykdal

Lead School Counseling Program Supervisor


Team hands

"I am passionate about SEL because it puts youth in the driver’s seat and allows them to collectively steer themselves, and others, into success. When youth are equipped with SEL, they become their own advocates. They see their peers and school staff not as competition but as partners and potential supports. As students (and staff) work to become their best selves with SEL, school climates can change in an overwhelmingly positive direction almost overnight. Seeing this transformation is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of and it is exactly why I love SEL!"

Kayla Stewart

Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Supervisor


SEL helps build skills you can use in school, your job, and in life. It helps with communication and problem-solving. Emotional intelligence helps me to understand how others are feeling and helps with making connections.  

College Student, Evergreen College


Heart hands

I think SEL is imperative because it helps people understand and accept who they are, advocate for themselves and others, and interact with empathy. It builds connections and belonging. It celebrates diversity.  It helps us to have hard conversations with respect.  It helps us to overcome and face our challenges. 

Tammy Bolen

Tammy Bolen

SEL Program Supervisor

Belonging becoming being

A Message from the Social Emotional Learning Advisory Committee


On January 1, 2020, Washington State proudly adopted Social Emotional Learning Standards rooted in equity, cultural responsiveness, universal design, and trauma informed practice. The previous SEL workgroups and the current WA State SEL Advisory Committee believe that meaningful and impactful social emotional learning takes a community, all of us working together to support our young people and ensuring they learn and grow socially, emotionally and academically.

Today as a statewide community we celebrate International SEL Day, a day where we celebrate the importance of social emotional learning and why it matters for every young person. The past year has reinforced the importance of relationships, connection, collaboration, communication and listening. As we continue to navigate this time, let us all remind ourselves why social emotional learning matters, why seeing every student and valuing who they are matters, and why every student and family feeling a deep sense of belonging in our schools matters.

Sarah Butcher and Jordan Posamentier

Please take a moment today to share your commitment to SEL and why SEL matters to you.  Use hashtags #SELday and #waedu!

Emotional connection over lesson

"It teaches me and helps me to be kind." - K, age 5.

Share similarities celebrate differences

"Social Emotional Learning is absolutely critical to future career and college readiness. Supporting students to develop social and emotional skills starting at an early age and continuously throughout students’ years in P-12 education prepares them to be successful in their chosen educational pathway, career, and life beyond P-12!"

Megan LaPalm MA, EdS

Elementary School Counseling Supports

"I feel happy with it (SEL) because everyone feels happy too." - A, age 5.

"When I think of the kind of school I want my children to go to, it’s one where relationships matter, they are treated kindly and respectfully, they are challenged to think and grow and learn from others and question their own thinking when necessary. Strong SEL implementation provides the conditions that allow that type of climate and culture to exist. I believe it is the moral imperative of all of us as educators to provide students with the skills they need to thrive in this world, not only individually, but as a part of a powerful community of belonging. It’s from within this community that amazing things can happen – and SEL gives all students the chance to be a strong and contributing part of that dynamic." 

Victoria Blakeney

Director of Student Support, Renton School District


Brene Brown Quote