Every school day at 3:00 pm you can find the five-person Social Emotional Learning (SEL) team sitting around a table debriefing about the day. This small, but mighty, group is responsible for implementing processes that are changing how teaching and learning happens in our schools.

Starting their work just last summer, they’ve delivered trainings and presentations, vetted curricula, and done a lot of foundational work.

The team will be the first to say they’re just getting started. “There’s so much more to do,” adds Jake Alabiso, District SEL Coordinator. An instrumental architect in this process from the beginning, he affirms this isn’t about quick fixes. “This is about building a really strong system of supports.”

As part of those supports, the team has put dedicated spaces called Social Emotional Centers in each elementary school. There, students can get structured support or just have a place to quietly regulate. Also at every elementary school are teams for implementing positive behavior intervention supports in three tiers.

Although the programs and intentional focus on SEL is new, the effort is paying off.

“Teachers and principals are all telling us it’s working, and the early data backs that up,” said Don Iverson, Director of Student Services. “We’re seeing a 25% reduction in suspensions from this time last year across the district, and in-school suspensions are down by 7%.”

The team will roll out this great work to secondary schools next school year.


Kelso’s SEL Team:

  • Don Iverson, Director of Student Services
  • Jake Alabiso, District SEL Coordinator
  • Bob Johanson, District SEL Coach
  • Shawnda Macie, SEL Technician
  • Colleen Brand, SEL Technician