ROSELLE, NJ - Students at the Kindergarten Success Academy (KSA) in Roselle, have found a great way to Tap into how they are feeling, by tapping an emoji and giving a high five to teachers as they start and end their school day.

Dr. Nathan Fisher, Principal at KSA, says that he is always thinking outside the box and trying to incorporate different teaching lessons into everyday activities for his kindergarteners to understand. 

Most recently Dr. James C. Baker, Interim Superintendent of Roselle Public Schools, made it an important goal for all schools to take part in “Social Emotional Learning”.

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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), is 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.

"It is very important that our students are practicing Social Emotional Learning," said Dr. Baker. "This type of learning can have a result of up to a 20 percent increase in student academic performance and result in a dramatic decrease in violence/vandalism incidents. We want only the best for our students." 

“It’s normal to see how students are feeling each and every day from their facial expressions,” said Dr. Fisher. “But I wanted to know why each student is feeling the way they are feeling and what could possibly be triggering these emotions.” 

Dr. Fisher recently came up with “Tap In and Tap Out” at KSA. Next to each classroom door is a poster of “emoji’s” on the wall. These emoji’s range from happy, sad, mad etc. and the student is then asked to tap the “emoji” (or emotion) they are feeling for the day. 

“So they ‘tap in’ as they arrive at school but also ‘tap out’ when they leave too,” Dr. Fisher explained. “This helps the staff to figure out if the emotions of the student changed throughout the day.” 

Barbara Golabek, a kindergarten teacher at KSA, has been teaching for 29 years in Roselle and says is an absolutely brilliant idea. 

“So the teachers took Dr. Fisher’s idea than ran with it,” Golabek said. “We added a ‘high-five’ first then the student points to the emoji they are feeling for that day. That way I can read their body language and also see what emotion they are feeling that day.”

“This has really helped us out as teachers trying to figure out how students are feeling,” Golabek added. “There have been times when a student of mine has touched the ‘mad’ or ‘sad’ emoji and the first thing I do when we are all in the classroom together is check on that student and talk to them. Sometimes we talk about how we are feeling out loud if it is appropriate. When other students help that one student feeling blue, it becomes a group effort; another teachable moment.”

Golabek mentioned this routine helps teachers understand what their students are going through and gives them a chance to help. It also teaches students at a young age that it’s okay to feel the way they are feeling and express their emotions. The students begin to realize that talking about their feelings helps. 

“We have ten classrooms in this kindergarten building and every classroom does it,” Dr. Fisher said. “This is the first year we started this and already it’s a big hit.” 

Recently, The New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional and Character Development (NJASECD) announced that Kindergarten Success Academy (KSA) has been selected as a New Jersey Honorable Mention School of Character. 

The New Jersey School of Character (NJSOC) Committee received and reviewed 57 applications from schools and districts statewide with character education programs of exceptionally high quality this year. 

The Honorable Mention award indicates that KSA's application demonstrated a very strong commitment to character education.

“We are so proud of KSA and all of our schools for the effort they put in every day,” Dr. Lissette Gonzalez-Perez, Assistant Superintendent of Roselle Public Schools, said. “A student has to be able to concentrate in class and being in a ‘good mode’ helps.” 

"This is a true honor," Dr. Nathan Fisher, Principal of KSA said. "Students have been taking advantage of the KSA Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative. Our teachers really increase efforts to incorporate these initiatives by taking simple steps over time. This is a group effort and I know how hard everyone has been working. This new project we started is a great example of taking SEL to the next level." 

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