Student Well-Being Video

Social-Emotional Skills Are the Foundation of Learning at Washington, D.C.'s High School for Young Men of Color

October 17, 2017 2:24

The principal at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, Dr. Benjamin Williams, talks about the challenges facing his students- all of them African-American young men and many of them from low-income families. His school focuses on developing students’ social-emotional skills, which he believes is the foundation of learning. A robust “CARE” team--most of them black men--includes a psychologist, a social worker and counselors. It’s a far bigger team than exists in most schools, but Principal Williams believes the poverty, violence and trauma that many Ron Brown students experience requires professional help with a manageable ratio of staff to students. It’s the CARE team’s job to keep students on-track--emotionally and academically. The CARE team begins each morning in a schoolwide circle, navigating conversations that include neighborhood violence and police shootings, protest and poverty. Many schools do one or two of these things, but few do them all – and with the conviction of Ron Brown’s staff. For the past year, Education Week’s Kavitha Cardoza and NPR’s Cory Turner visited Ron Brown weekly -- and some weeks, daily -- to witness the birth of this new school and to see how its staff tackles some of the toughest challenges. We spent hundreds of hours there, from the earliest days to the last bell.

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