DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The Montgomery County Educational Service Center is getting some star-studded help. Singer Jewel has teamed up with the agency to improve how students in the Miami Valley are taught.
Jewel’s difficult childhood spurred her passion for holistic education.
“When I moved out at 15, I knew that statistically kids like me should end up repeating that cycle. I set out to try to beat those odds and ended up developing a series of exercises that really helped retrain my brain, helped me create a habit of happiness, and most importantly helped me tackle and overcome anxiety, depression, panic attacks or a phobia,” lists the singer.
The partnership is designed to promote Social Emotional Learning Language Arts, otherwise known as SELLA. It’s designed to educate the whole student and prevent students from becoming statistics.
“The bottom line is suicide numbers are up. We clearly in this region, in Ohio, and all throughout the country, have been dealing with an opioid epidemic that has hit ground zero here specifically in this region,” says MCESC Superintendent Shannon Cox. “If we pull back all the layers, of those societal issues, it comes down to — we have five years olds who enter school that haven’t had the same five years of human being experience that we did when we were five.”
The singer and agency are hoping to change that norm. They’ve developed exercises for reading and writing that focus on self reflection and mindfulness through journaling, breathing, and connect notes.
SELLA doesn’t take away from the current curriculum. It still covers all of the national and state writing standards. Cox says it doesn’t add to teachers’ workload either.
“It really isn’t one more thing to do. It’s actually just doing what we’re already doing — better,” says Cox.
“Our hope is that by offering this curriculum to districts nationwide we can grow healthy, happy, whole humans, and in turn build stronger communities one student at a time,” says Jewel.
The Montgomery County Educational Service Center services 16 school districts in Montgomery County and more than 90 educational entities in Ohio.