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Look! See this Powerful Interview of Superintendent Hardin-Bartley by Future Ready Schools

On July 5, Future Ready Schools interviewed School District of University Superintendent Superintendent Dr. Sharonica L. Hardin-Bartley on the topic of "A Holistic Approach to Social Emotional Learning." In this extensive interview, Hardin-Bartley discussed The School District of University City's unique SEEAL approach to educating students. Under SEEAL, teachers and staff are trained in ways to seamlessly integrate social, emotional, equitable and academic learning into classroom settings. 

Within the SEEAL method, specific tools are used to ensure that social emotional skills are combined in the act of academic teaching. As Hardin-Bartley puts it, education is a "head and heart business," and teachers must be skilled at blending them in the classroom. 

In the above video, Hardin Bartey discusses the moral imperative of teachers and staff to show up for students every day because, as she put it, "We are the adults, and we chose this profession. It is our choice."

Through SEEAL, the District "is helping teachers and leaders and parents and students understand that social emotional learning doesn't happen over here and academics over here. They are not working against each other. There is a true partnership."

"I believe that no meaningful learning happens absent of a relationship," Hardin-Bartley said. "So we have to root our work with young people in solid relationships with the adults that work alongside them and in partnership with them."

Part of the SEEAL work includes addressing trauma, equity and the many difficult issues facing our students regarding national conversations on race, education and social justice.

"Our children don't come to us as robots," she said. "They don't leave all the emotion and all the stuff at the door, they bring that with them. And as the educators who work alongside them, we must work in partnership and keep the academic focus there and simultaneously make sure that their well-being is centered." 

That work includes encouraging student voice, conversations about social justice, bringing real world experiences and issues into the classroom, and allowing meaningful, purposeful and safe conversations, she said.

Hardin-Bartley further discusses the District's dynamic vision of Learning Reimagined and its strategic priorities, which include fostering a culture of well-being and joy. Joy, she said, is an intentional choice that nurtures children. Teachers have a moral imperative to bring that spark to their students, she said.

"It is a way of being and it is a choice," she said. "It is not something that can be forced, and you have to truly love what you do. You have to have this innate and intrinsic motivation about what you do for children," further noting, "Children are just these amazing bundles of energy and joy, and they come that way - even the ones who need a little more love and a little more hugs and care. They want to be a part of something....That's what they want in a school."

"Why would we ever expect children to walk into spaces that are just doom and gloom?" 

Read more about the District's SEEAL approach to education here
Learn more about the District's vision of Learning Reimagined here.