After a successful 3rd ANNUAL SAM CONFERENCE on May 22, 2014, filled with 160 energetic, informed people, we’re making plans for our 4th Annual Conference next May, 2015 at the Statehouse in Boston where we can speak about our upcoming legislation to make SEL a competency required for all new teachers.  Stay tuned here for news about progress for SEL in our state.  Better yet, join one of our committees and play an active part in making social-emotional learning the norm in all Massachusetts schools.


Welcome to the home of the SEL Alliance for Massachusetts (SAM), a group of individuals who work for schools, SEL providers, hospitals, associations, businesses and nonprofits that care deeply about introducing social-emotional learning (SEL) into our schools and communities as a long-term education plan to improve academics and reduce violence and addictions in our communities.

By teaching and practicing SEL skills in our schools, we will:

    • Increase academic achievement (up 11% universally and 17% for at-risk students).
    • Reduce the staggering human and financial costs caused by violence, addiction and other social maladies (social-emotional learning skills up 22%).


The purpose of the Alliance is to influence decision-makers in making SEL part of our lives by introducing it into all Massachusetts schools, pre-k – 12.


If you are interested in supporting SEL and the all-volunteer SAM (we ask no dues and pay no salaries), simply click on “Interested in Helping?”and fill out a brief form. (Your email address will never be used for commercial purpose or given to any other corporation or person.)


New!  New SEL job listing just posted that is time sensitive.  Go to Jobs Available.


New!   Our membership has increased to 355 members.   Each person who joins SAM is a new avenue to reach out to a legislator concerning the importance of SEL to our children and society.   Tell your friends about SAM!   See Committee lists for those who make up our membership.  Check out the new members and what they do by looking toward the end of each listing on each page.  If your name is not on a list, please write SEL4Mass@gmail.com for assistance.


New!  The New Safe and Supportive Schools Legislation (see the Fact Sheet here) (H 3528)  has as its lead sponsor Representative Ruth Balser.  Hopefully, this bill is on its way to passage.  It is now in the House Ways and Means Committee.  Please contact your representatives to support this bill.  It’s a simple act, but means so much in advancing SEL in all our schools.


New!  Representative Ruth Balser (D-Newton) will be filing legislation in January, 2015 to make SEL education a requirement for all pre-service teachers.  Kudos to the Massacusetts Consortium for Social-Emotional Learning in Teacher Education (SEL-TED) , a branch of the SEL Alliance, chaired by Deborah Donahue-Keegan, David Zussman and Joy Bettencourt, in making this giant leap into the future.   We will all need to work together to get this passed by the Legislature because passage means that today’s new teacher graduates will be SEL-educated when they become the next generation’s teachers, superintendents and principals!   Stay tuned on how you can assist us in the first piece of legislation SAM has produced.


New! There are now eight committees working on behalf of SEL in Massachusetts (scroll down).   If you think of a Working Group that you’d like to form (RN’s, Social Workers, School Psychologists, perhaps), please reach out to others, take the initiative to work together to make change.  If we are all working on new ideas to make improvement, to have SEL in all schools, we will make a difference.


1. The Steering Commitee, co-chaired by Mary McCarthy and Rachel Poliner, after completing our Mission Statement has become a nonprofit Massachuseetts corporatiion in January, 2014 and is moving forward to gain its tax exempt 501(c)(3) sstatus.  The next meeting is on Thursday, June 5, 2014 from 3 to 5 PM at Teachers21 at 34 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA (2nd Floor) .   If you have  questions, please contact Mitch Lyons (mitchly@comcast.net).


2. The  SEL Educators Events Group, co-chaired by John Bluthardt and Rachel Poliner, with assistance of the committee memebrs Steven Brion-Meisels, Fern Shamis, Mary McCarthy, John D’Auria, Gene Thompson, Nova Biro and Mitch Lyons have  organized SAM’s Third Annual SEL Spring Conference, entitled “Leveraging SEL in Era of Accountability.” from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM on May 22, 2014 at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA at the Rte 16 entrance at the Wellesley College Club. The cost for this full day workshop, including lunch, is only $35.00.


Featuring John D’Auria of Teachers 21 as a principal faciliator, we’ll see “Why SEL matters, now more than ever?”, hear of examples of  lessons and leverage points to make SEL happen in both urban and surburban districts, examine the role of advocacy in advancing SEL and then, in conclusion, attend six breakout session with many interesting topics from which to choose.   A light breakfast with coffee/tea will be offered as well as a box lunch sandwhiches and  gluton-free choices.


3. SAM’s SEL Speakers’ Bureau, chaired by Gayle Vonasek and John Bluthardt,  has finished a generic PowerPoint presentation  about SEL and its benefits.  Twenty-two speakers from all over Massachusetts have volunteered to be SAM Speakers to advocate for SEL wherever people congregate – at PTSO’s, houses of worship, associations, business groups, anti-violence and anti-addiction noprofits, social justice and civil rights organizations .  SAM Speakers are attending one of two planned workshops to join together as a team on either May 3rd or June 21st, 2014 from 9:45 to 2:00 at Wellesley College Club on campus.    Please contact Mitch Lyons if you know of audiences who would like to plan a speaker for the summer, fall and winter of 2014 at SEL4Mass@gmail.com


 4. Massacusetts Consortium for Social-Emotional Learning in Teacher Education (SEL-TED) , chaired by Deborah Donahue-Keegan, ED.D. and businessman David Zussman, is advocating for more substantive integration of SEL research/practice into teacher preparation programs with the Department of Education.  This group has also received word that legislation will be filed in January, 2015 to make SEL education mandatory for receiving a teaching certificate.  If you’d like to know more, please contact Deborah Donahue-Keegan at deborah.donahue_keegan@tufts.edu



5.  The Website Design Group, chaired by Nova Biro, is involved in improving the website to make it more user friendly and dynamic.  We are currently seeking to fill a paid internship position for website development.  If you have someone in mind or have any ideas as to content or presentation, please send your comments to Nova Biro at nbiro@wellesley.edu.  All comments are welcomed, a point that cannot be emphasized enough.


6. The Family and Community Committee of SAM, chaired by Karen Craddock and Margaret Kiwanuka, is aimed at exploring and advancing our understanding, practice and engagement with families and community partners around social-emotional learning. With an emphasis on convening a diverse body, the plan is to support and deepen our strategies in participatory and culturally responsive and fluent ways across the state and in partnership with other SEL related activities.  To join this committee, write karen.t.craddock@gmail.com.


7. Business Involvement Working Group, chaired by David Harris and John Bluthardt, is filing nonprofit Massachusetts corporation Articles of Organization subject to review by the Steering Committee.  From there, they will develop strategies to involve Massachusetts businesses in working toward SEL training for all children so that new employees may enter the labor force skilled in problem-solving, forming trusting long lasting relationships and managing their own emotions, creating a 21st century work force.  If you would like to become part of this committee, please contact Mitch Lyons at mitchly@comcast.net.


8.  School-based Mental Health Service Providers Committee.   Carol Volturo, of Hudson Schools and a school psychologist is forming a committe to examine the role of school-based mental health service providers in advancing SEL throughout the schools.  As there are over 75 mental health providers in SAM, it will be interesting to hear the different ideas that come out of this brand new committee.  To find out more, contact Carla Volturo at crvolturo@hudson.k12.ma.us.




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To see SEL in action, click on this brief video by Learning Matters in conjunction with PBS Jim Lehrer NewsHour.