Rancho Santa Fe School District parents are speaking up for the value of social and emotional learning at R. Roger Rowe School, a set of skills and tools taught to students to help manage triggers and everyday emotions, to show empathy for others and reach positive goals.
During public comment at the Jan. 27 meeting, parents said they are concerned that the district’s Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Committee had been disbanded by the board and questioned the direction the district is planning to take with SEL.
Calli Kelsay, a parent volunteer on the SEL committee, said that she was caught off-guard when the committee was shut down without notice. She knows the importance of SEL having worked on many youth mental health and well-being efforts—she is president of Safe Kids San Diego, community education advisor for the Transforming Mental Health Initiative at Rady Children’s Hospital, and the co-founder of Skate Rising, an organization that creates an inclusive space for young girls.
“All four of my children have had adverse experiences here with other children at the school,” Kelsay said. She shared that according to the U.S. surgeon general’s health advisory on mental health, 50% of girls reported feeling hopeless and alone, even prior to the pandemic.
“To ignore this is nothing short of negligent,” Kelsay said. “SEL is not a cure-all but it is a foundational point to build a caring and more connected community which is what we lack as of now.”
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Photo: R. Roger Rowe School. Rancho Santa Fe Review (Karen Billing)