Does today’s education fully prepare students for their future? Governing bodies have emphasized the academic skills our students need. Education should also complement the focus on academics with the development of the social and emotional skills that are equally essential for students to thrive in school, career, and life.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC, refers to Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) as the integration of social and emotional development with academic learning in K-12 education. Research shows that when schools fully integrate SEAD into K-12 education, academic performance improves, students are more engaged in school, and more likely to graduate high school and attend and graduate from college. Evidence also shows that students with healthy social and emotional development are more successful in the workforce and experience greater lifetime well-being.

In the same way that academic skills can be developed, social and emotional skills can be nurtured and developed through student’s school experience. Using SEAD methods in student groups prepares students to connect with others, make responsible decisions, communicate, solve problems, think critically, be resilient, persevere, and work in teams—key skills to gain access into the future workforce.

SEAD methods make education a true integration of social, emotional, and academic development giving students a better chance of success in school, career, and life. A student’s ability to focus, manage emotions, and stay engaged, plays an important role in his or her ability to process new concepts and ultimately learn. Students who can work collaboratively and communicate effectively are better able to use their academic knowledge to perform in school now and in the workplace later. At the same time, these skills help young people build the strong relationships that are such a big part of leading a fulfilling life.

A variety of instructional strategies can be used to support students’ social and emotional development, including specific programs, as a part of classroom lessons, and opportunities such as hands on learning with situations that require students to practice these skills. Stand-alone programs and interventions like CIS Action for Success that focus on developing social and emotional skills have been shown to improve behavior and academic performance.

Communities In Schools of Brunswick County (CIS) is continuing to work with Brunswick County Schools to provide dropout prevention services with CIS Action for Success programs located in Cedar Grove Middle School, Leland Middle School, Shallotte Middle School, South Brunswick Middle School, Waccamaw School serving K-8, and Supply Elementary School. SEAD student groups and teaching methods are being used as part of the CIS Action for Success program.

The CIS Action for Success program at Cedar Grove Middle School holds weekly student SEAD group sessions for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Groups are facilitated by Whitney Franklin, CIS Success Coach, with assistance from active and retired educators using curriculum instruction dealing with anger management, conflict resolution, defense mechanisms and emotional reactions. SEAD sessions are individualized for specific group needs. Franklin uses behavior specialist resources and SEAD methods to address and meet the groups’ specific needs.

Franklin says, “Consistent social, emotional, and academic development with students as well as working with families and communities is the best way to meet the needs of students.”

Last year, CIS provided individualized support and intervention services to 334 students in Brunswick County identified as needing additional resources to meet their social, emotional, academic, and behavioral development needs. At the end of the school year, 99% of the students served were promoted to the next grade level.

Sources: (2018). Social, Emotional and Academic Development. The Aspen Institute. Retrieved from

(2018, January 23). How Learning Happens: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional and Academic Development. The Aspen Institute. Retrieved from

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