Downers Grove Teachers to Speak on Capitol Hill

El Sierra sixth-grade teachers Patricia Incrocci and Lindsay Shea will join U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert to promote awareness about social and emotional learning.

Two Downers Grove teachers will visit Washington, D.C. on Thursday to address lawmakers, educational advocates and national news outlets.

El Sierra sixth-grade teachers Patricia Incrocci and Lindsay Shea, selected by a national nonprofit to speak at the Capitol Hill briefing, will join U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert to promote awareness about social and emotional learning, also known as SEL.

SEL helps children develop the skills to handle themselves, their relationships and their work, according to a news release. In 2011, a major research report from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University Chicago found that students who participate in SEL programs show again of 11 percentile points in academic achievement. 

Incrocci and Shea accepted an invitation to speak at the Washington event from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL contributed to the 2011 report and helps some of the largest U.S. school districts design and implement systems that support SEL. 

CASEL invited Incrocci and Shea after experts at the nonprofit visited El Sierra School and witnessed the use of Responsive Classroom, a program that helps schools support social-emotional development in children. 

Last month, researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Education released preliminary results of a three-year, $2.9 million study on Responsive Classroom, finding that the use of its techniques leads to achievement gains in mathematics and reading. 

CASEL will include Responsive Classroom in the 2013 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs (Preschool and Elementary School Edition). The Guide, to be released at the Sept. 20 briefing, is the first comprehensive, national review of SEL programs since 2003, according to the release. 

Other speakers at the briefing will include Biggert, who represents Downers Grove and the rest of Illinois’ 13th District in Congress; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio; CASEL and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver; and CASEL President and CEO Roger Weissberg, who is also a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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