An Evolution in Nashville

April 2, 2019, by Jimmy Minichello

sel cohort meeting 2019 day2Day No. 2 of the first-ever AASA Social and Emotional Learning Cohort meeting in Nashville began not long after sunrise. At about 7:15 a.m., educators from across the country boarded buses to visit either Dupont Hadley Middle School or Dan Mills Elementary School, in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

During these visits, SEL champions had ample opportunities to view effective SEL firsthand.

"Social-emotional learning provides a pathway for students to be successful and for us to be successful in education," said Shelley Berman, superintendent, Andover (Mass.) Public School. "It's very inspiring to be in a room with other superintendents and teams from other districts, who are struggling in the work, to discuss how they can best move forward and who are ready to take next steps and share their learning."

sel cohort meeting 2019 day2-2"I'm here because academics is one of the wings of responsibilities as educators but the other wing is the social-emotional well-being of our students," said Dennis Pauli, superintendent, Edgerton (Wis.) School District. "That way, all students will have both wings to fly."

Following classroom visits, attendees had a chance to listen to Tony Majors, the executive officer of student services from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

"The Nashville story is one of progressive change and intentional focus," said Majors, in an interview with AASA following his discussion. "Our investment in social and emotional learning really became a purpose – a driven mission to elevate the understanding and skill set of the adults in our school system to better meet the needs of our children."

Added Majors, "Nashville is really an evolution – an evolution of looking at how do we look at education from the complex lens of all the issues impacting students and families that manifest themselves in school on a daily basis and how the school systems provide the support services, structure and processes to address those factors in a meaningful way to improve academic outcomes for our children."

sel cohort meeting 2019 day2-3On Day No. 3, the final day of the cohort meeting, Bill Daggett, founder and chair of the International Center for Leadership in Education, is serving as one of the morning's keynote speakers. In addition, Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and president and chief executive officer of the Learning Policy Institute, will address the group via Zoom.

To join the conversation via social media, access #AASA_SEL.

For more information or to find out how to participate in the AASA SEL Cohort, visit the AASA website or contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director, leadership network, at 703.875.0726 or