Second Step Program Comes to Penn Brook

Elementary parents probably heard about a new social emotional curriculum that will be used at Penn Brook beginning this year.  This program focuses on the themes that are developmentally appropriate for the age and are intended to help students strengthen their social skills.  Some have asked me what happened to Responsive Classroom (RC) which is the social curriculum we have been using for the last decade or so.  There are a number of teachers who have been teaching here for years who have been fully trained in RC and implement the practices they learned such as morning meeting and rules and logical consequences as they see fit to build their classroom community.  However, as we have hired teachers over the years, they have received limited training mostly from their colleagues but were never formally trained. As a result, the implementation of RC has not been consistent and so we looked for a curriculum that we could use across the school at all grades that would accomplish the same thing. After  many months of research, we selected Second Step and teachers were trained right before school opened. Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction Collin MacDonald led the search for a new curriculum and he is working closely with Margaret Maher and the staff to begin the year with this new program.  Some of the reasons it was selected include:

  • It is research based and on the list of recommended comprehensive health and wellness programs
  • It considers the age and development of the children when selecting the themes in the program.
  • The materials and lessons are engaging such as they use puppets for the younger grades and scenarios for the upper grades.
  • It focuses on healthy decision-making, considering options and social skill development
  • The lessons from year to year build on one another and reinforce previous learning.
  • It is user-friendly for teachers which will increase consistency.
  • It is comprehensive because it includes classroom materials, a Principal’s Guide and a parent component.
  • It has a Middle School component in case we want to extend it beyond PB. We would have that option.

This program supports the CARES philosophy and reinforces the PBIS  framework that the school has been working with for the past 2-3 years. It is like PBIS is the umbrella and Second Step is the spokes/ the underpinnings that make it work.  In our world today, schools are more than the 3 Rs and in order to learn at their best, children have to feel safe socially and emotionally.  I am sure you will be learning more about Second Step as the year goes on but if you have any questions, please contact Mrs. Maher at or or me