DEEP RIVER, Conn. (WTNH) — Deep River Elementary School has been prioritizing social and emotional learning for years. Five years ago they decided to bring a program into the school specifically for that specific curriculum. 

Laura Kasprow is the school social worker and was a part of the team that decided to bring the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement into the school. She says, “Of all the character education programs I’ve come across in my many years as a school social worker, this one was positive.” 

She continues, “Since the ’90s, we have gone through all different kinds of programs, but none of them had had the all-encompassing focus that the Choose Love program has.”

It was a program created by Scarlett Lewis. She’s a Connecticut mother who lost her son in the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy eight years ago.

Since that tragic day, she has made it her mission to provide social and emotional learning (SEL) for schools, communities, and businesses. 

Angie Kingston is a third-grade teacher at Deep River Elementary and has been teaching for 17 years. When she started her career, SEL was referred to as character education. She tells News 8, “We started with that being an emphasis but it kind of lost its way with education and the focus that it was taking.” 

Kingston adds, “Right now during this time we find there needs to be a great focus on emotional intelligence and I’m very happy to see that.” 

Principal Lauren Feltz says this has been a challenging year for everyone, “Students, teachers, and parents at home are living through this slow-motion trauma.” 

She says now more than ever social and emotional learning is important for everyone.   

Feltz says by strengthening students socially and emotionally they become more available when they’re learning academics in the classroom.