Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Mann, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.


social emotional learning, middle school, student achievement, culture of care


This capstone project was part of a group project completed by five school and district administrators in Hillsborough County, Florida. The project began because of our passion for teachers who are able to establish a culture of care in their classrooms that support students academically but transform their learning through experiences that enable them to be more highly engaged and productive students, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, perceived academic abilities, and backgrounds.

My focus in this group project looked at social emotional learning, student behavior, and student achievement in high needs schools. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and its related activities and lessons were once a foundational piece of the middle school program. Over the years, increased accountability and legislative mandates have made it very challenging to include dedicated time in a student’s daily schedule for SEL lessons and activities. In Hillsborough County Public Schools, a summer program for retained sixth graders served as a launching ground for the re-introduction of SEL activities. The positive impact of the SEL activities were immediate and the SEL lessons, delivered through daily Community Building Sessions (CBS), were received well by teachers and students. How can the overwhelmingly positive results of the use of SEL activities with students in a summer program be replicated during the regular school year?

Literature supported the growing need for social emotional learning, positive impacts of SEL on student behavior and academic learning, the importance of positive classroom climates as a school-wide strategy, and the importance of leadership support.

Included in

Education Commons