Catholic Schools: The Original Home of SEL

By Rebecca Steck

One might argue that Catholic Schools invented “SEL” or Social Emotional Learning many years ago with the introduction of the first ever Catholic School dating back to the 19th century. After all, a child’s development in a parochial school has always been tied to their faith development which coincides with their inter and intra personal relationships, self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, and social awareness (the 5 pillars that define SEL). Catholic Schools have always taught students to love themselves and their neighbors from the beginning of time.

Prior to the pandemic and of course most certainly post-pandemic, SEL is a wildly trending topic in which Catholic Schools, such as ours, simply had to look in the mirror to assess what was working and what could be improved.

Over the course of the 2021-2022 school year, the leadership team at Greenwich Catholic kept a keen eye on how the students of GCS were doing. Are they overall healthy? Are they feeling happy? Are our students struggling socially? It was during these conversations that the leadership team decided to implement a new course at Greenwich Catholic empathetically titled, “Faith in Practice”.

In short, Faith in Practice is a course designed to enhance our religion courses and the daily practice of being contributing community members through the lens of our Catholic faith. Our Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Hasanovic, leads the course that is designed to meet the kids where they are. Utilizing Friendzy, a social and emotional learning curriculum developed to help students become better friends, our counselor discusses everything from how to better manage relationships with their peers, parents, teachers, and coaches, to how to stay more organized in their coursework, all the while studying the matching Bible verse for the lesson and deepening their relationship with their faith.

For the students of Greenwich Catholic, and essentially every other Catholic School, SEL has been a part of who they are and what they do since these schools opened their doors centuries ago. Our practice of treating others with respect and kindness is what we have always done. GCS students learn to serve others in a way that becomes an integral part of who they are for the entirety of their lives.

We are proud of the mission of Catholic Schools and want to be clear that SEL is nothing new, rather, it is who we are.

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