Social Emotional Learning

National SEL Day took place on March 26, 2021. In the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District, themed activities took place within classrooms, hallways, and even outdoors during recess. Below are two examples of how Parsippany showcases the social emotional side of schools and learning.

Celebrating SEL Day at

Knollwood School

BMS SEL 2021 Day.mp4

Celebrating SEL Day at

Brooklawn Middle School

We know that before students can effectively learn, several conditions must be met. For example, they must have food. A hungry student isn’t going to be able to absorb instruction, no matter how skilled the teacher is. Neither can students learn if their social and emotional needs are not met. Click here to continue reading...

Welcome to the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District Social and Emotional Learning website. In the 2017-2018 school year, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District adopted new strategic goals for our school district. Goal #2 states: All students will receive social and emotional support to become adaptable, confident citizens who embody self-awareness and strong interpersonal skills, capable of responsible decision-making and managing their emotions and behaviors.

This vision was later followed by an increased awareness, discussion, and in depth look at trends like social equality, emotional intelligence, growth mindset, and grit. Research shows that academic and social emotional learning are interconnected, and essential to achieving and maintaining the district's high academic standards. Research also indicates that in order to improve the academic lives of students, we need to teach all members of our community about the five CASEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

In the 2018-2019 school year, a small group of elementary teachers enthusiastically piloted the Sanford Harmony model for social emotional learning. In 2019-2020, this pilot was expanded to all K-5 classrooms in our ten elementary schools. A newly established Director of Health/PE (Mindfulness) position further reinforces the district's focus on student and staff wellness, self-advocacy, and social/emotional growth.

Our website is intended to provide information and resources connected to this Strategic Planning goal for all community members. We will also showcase Parsippany's progress toward achieving this goal, the programs we explore and adopt, as well as the outcomes.

Blog Posts

Raising Confident Kids - March 1, 2020

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

~ Dale Carnegie

Sounds easy to our adult minds, doesn’t it? But, how do we instill confidence in our children? That’s the real challenge. Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. Confident people don’t always have successful outcomes, but they produce successful efforts. (click here to continue reading...)

What is Social Emotional Learning?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (better known as CASEL) describes Social Emotional Learning as the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. CASEL is the leading authority on SEL, and through research, practice, and policy, they are changing the way we think about education, focusing on the whole child.

Social and Emotional Learning involves teaching skills that students and adults need in order to be more successful at home, at school, in the workplace, and in life. When people have social and emotional skills, they are self and socially aware, and have the ability to manage themselves both independently and while interacting with others. They can listen to perspectives of others, use positive communication, be aware of cultural issues and differences, set and achieve goals, and take personal responsibility for their learning.

Dr. Maurice Elias, Professor of Psychology and Director of Social Emotional and Character Development Learning lab, summarizes the importance of SEL in the video to the left. He also supports and partners with the NJ Department of Education, which embraces the CASEL competencies, and offers additional resources on their website.

When SEL becomes a way of life at both school and home, our students and community will experience a more positive climate, higher success on academic levels, and be more prepared to handle a variety of situations using essential life skills. Scroll down to see what Parsippany schools are doing to infuse more Social Emotional Learning into our curriculum.

Why Social Emotional Learning?

Research shows that students exposed to SEL do better academically, have better attitudes and better behaviors. Children who understand SEL skills enjoy positive friendships and are less likely to be bullied. Students who come from a strong SEL education are twice as likely to earn a college degree and attain a full-time job by age 25.


At Knollwood School...

Mrs. Smith's Kindergarten class and Mrs. Brennan's second grade class were gracious hosts, showcasing their daily social emotional group activities. Mrs. Smith's kindergartners were given opportunity to exercise communication, listening and sharing skills, while also showing the value of volume, tone and behavior. Mrs. Brennan's second graders read a story from our Sanford Harmony model and then discussed feelings of the characters and how we all can relate. Students also partnered up to discuss similarities and differences, and why we're all special in individual ways.

Mrs. Smith & Mrs. Brennan shared, "We are really enjoying implementing Sanford Harmony in our classrooms. We think it is crucial to have a strong classroom community for the success of our students. Our students are loving getting to know each other and really getting to understand what it means to be a part of their classroom community."

Sanford Harmony

All K-5 elementary schools in the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District utilize the Sanford Harmony model for introducing SEL skills to our students.

Pinwheels for Peace

Ms. Gallagher's Painting class at PHHS conducts an activity called Pinwheels for Peace in recognition of World Peace Day on September 21st (also World Gratitude Day).

SEL at Northvail & Mt. Tabor

Thank you to Mrs. Vento & Mrs. DeMarco for showcasing their Sanford Harmony Morning Meetings in September.