After Rye Neck Middle School students gathered in their school’s dining hall, they collaborated in groups to imagine and react to different scenarios, identify emotions and gain the necessary tools they need to thrive in school.
Under the direction of Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski, school counselor Meegan Lawlor and teachers Chris Macli, Allison Reynolds and Cathy Toolan during grade-level assemblies on Oct. 15 and 16, the students participated in activities and lessons on why emotions matter. The assemblies were the first major step in student training as part of the schoolwide RULER program.
“The name RULER is an acronym for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating emotions,” Dr. Lutinski said. “Mastering these skills has been proven to make teaching and learning more effective, and to help improve students’ decision-making, as well as physical and mental health. These benefits have been directly linked to success in school and in life. RULER is not a quick fix, a one-time assembly or class presentation. It is the foundation to develop a community where students feel safe, are encouraged to make good decisions and work cooperatively.”
Rye Neck’s involvement with the RULER program, which is an evidence-based means of bringing social and emotional learning to the school community, has progressed from staff training to students’ education. Throughout the school year, Rye Neck Middle School will put last year’s professional development to work by entering phase II, where RULER is introduced to the student body and shared with families.
“We are excited to create an environment where students learn the soft skills that they need in order to be successful in school and in life,” Lawlor said. “In order for students to learn, they must be emotionally available. If they are upset, anxious, angry or even too happy or excited, the best teaching in the world won’t get through.”
Developed by Dr. Marc Brackett at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the program is based on the idea that if students can correctly identify emotions, they can effectively work through them.