AHA!, a nationally recognized Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) organization headquartered in Santa Barbara is conducting SEL training for some 390 teachers in the Santa Barbara and Carpinteria unified school districts.

Research continues to demonstrate the importance of SEL in reducing emotional/physical violence in schools through proactive building of healthy campus climates.

AHA! has been contracted by the Santa Barbara Unified School District to provide educator trainings as part of the district’s five-year plan combining SEL, PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support), and Restorative Approaches with a more intensive approach incorporating educator and student programs at SEL Wraparound pilot school Santa Barbara High School.

Diana Rigby, Carpinteria Unified School District superintendent, has contracted with AHA! to deliver a full three-year SEL rollout throughout the district, an initiative that will include outreach and education for students, parents, teachers and all district staff, including bus drivers and janitorial staff.

According to a research brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Penn State, 46 percent of teachers report high daily stress during the school year.

“High levels of stress are affecting teacher health and well-being, causing teacher burnout, lack of engagement, job dissatisfaction, poor performance, and some of the highest turnover rates ever. Stress not only has negative consequences for teachers, it also results in lower achievement for students and higher costs for schools,” the brief’s authors state.

Another recent study by University of Missouri researchers found that 93 percent of elementary teachers surveyed experience high levels of stress.

“AHA!’s goal is to provide educators with support — for self-care and management of the stresses and challenges of their work — and to help them to model self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and other social-emotional competencies for the youth they serve,” said Pilar Montoya, AHA!’s executive director.

By addressing the social and emotional needs of students, parents, and educators, we ultimately impact the well-being of their entire community,” Montoya said.

AHA! is providing two three-hour and six six-hour trainings in 2019-20, as well as monthly circles for teachers at SBHS and throughout the Carpinteria District. 

AHA!’s 20 years’ experience and best practices are being delivered through a framework developed by CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) to meet nationwide standards for teacher SEL.

— Molly Green for AHA!.