What is SEL?

Social-Emotional Learning at NTPS

  • At North Thurston Public Schools, our vision is clear: All students empowered and future-ready. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, career, and life. Extensive research shows a positive correlation between the skills taught throughout Social Emotional Learning programs and positive behavior, academic achievement, and healthier life choices. Children learn social emotional skills in a variety of ways, including the behavior they see modeled by the adults in their lives. SEL lessons can also be taught explicitly in the classroom, in much the same way as math or reading. 

    Second Step logo SEL curriculum teaches students skills to:

    • Control impulses
    • Communicate clearly and assertively
    • Maintain cooperative relationships
    • Make responsible decisions
    • Solve problems effectively
    • Recognize emotions in oneself and others
    • Manage strong emotions
    • Have empathy for others


    Social Emotional Learning in NTPS Elementary Schools

    Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, NTPS will fully implement the Second Step SEL curriculum in grades Pre-K through 5. Every elementary classroom has 20 minutes of SEL Time built into their daily schedule for this purpose. SEL Time consists of both Second Step lessons and group activities that foster community and build strong relationships.

    Our District's SEL Curriculum Committee chose Second Step as our core SEL curriculum because it has a strong evidence base and includes engaging age-appropriate educational games, activities, and media. It has been successfully implemented by over 26,000 schools worldwide. Second Step aligns with WA State SEL competencies, as well as our district initiatives. It also has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the Department of Education, for the quality of research, training, and teacher and family support.

    To learn more about the scope and sequence of Second Step lessons by grade level, please download the curriculum Scope & Sequence (PDF). You can find additional information on the Second Step website: SecondStep.org. Ask your student's classroom teacher for an activation key code to access online family resources.

    Social Emotional Learning in NTPS Secondary Schools

    Character Strong logoSecondary schools (grades 6-12) utilize Character Strong curriculum with Second Step curriculum for Bullying Prevention. The modules included SEL in remote learning. The lessons cater to multiple learning styles, in a digital format that engage in discussion and reflection that put character into practical actions. These interactive activities encourage engaged learning and relationship building.

    High Schools are implementing CharacterStrong curriculum as part of the advisory time that includes High School and Beyond plans and other important work.

    For more information on SEL in our District, please contact our Student Support team at (360) 412-4484.

    Read an article about SEL in Thurston Talk >>

What is DESSA?

  • The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) is an evidence-based SEL assessment given to all NTPS students to measure social and emotional competence and support student growth. It is used by school districts across the country and has been used or evaluated in 130+ peer-reviewed studies.

    The DESSA provides information about eight key social and emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, goal-directed behavior, personal responsibility, decision-making, and optimistic thinking. DESSA scores can help identify each child's specific strengths and opportunities for growth and guide school-wide, class-wide, small-group, and individual strategies to promote those competencies.

    DESSA eight core competencies infographic