Education is crucial to our children’s future achievement, well-being, and the continued growth of our community. BCAC has been working to improve education in Bridgeport for over thirty years. Currently, we are working on school-based initiatives that support the social and emotional learning (SEL) of our children. Just as much as academics, social and emotional development promotes student success including better attendance, fewer suspensions, and a higher grade point average.
We are currently involved in the following SEL initiatives:
The RULER Approach
The RULER Approach is an evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that was developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is an acronym that stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions. The Bridgeport Public Schools are in the process of implementing the RULER Approach district-wide. BCAC has provided advocacy and training to help bring the program to all schools, as well as to the broader Bridgeport community. In 2017, BCAC will continue its work promoting the RULER Approach by providing several trainings for parents and other community members.
“Social and Emotional Learning in the Bridgeport Public Schools: An Initial Report to the Community” October 2016, Joanna L. Meyer, M.A.T. and Michael J. Strambler, Ph.D.
“Social and Emotional Learning: Why Students Need It. What Districts are Doing About It” Fall 2016, NoVo Foundation and Education First
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
PBIS is a framework for schools to use evidence-based behavioral interventions that enhance academic and social behavior outcomes for students. In Bridgeport, PBIS has been implemented district-wide. BCAC helped renew the district’s focus on this approach starting in 2009. Since then, BCAC has partnered with the district to: promote PBIS in reports as a best practice; integrate PBIS representatives into school reform task forces; and design a Bridgeport Public Schools Behavioral Support Continuum that illustrates the importance of PBIS and other positive school climate initiatives working together. Bridgeport Public Schools have seen a 39% decrease in out-of-school suspensions since PBIS and other behaviorally focused programs have been implemented.
The Out-of-School Suspension Pilot Task Force
BCAC is spearheading this task force for the Bridgeport Public Schools in order to eliminate out-of-school suspensions (OSS) in four pilot schools: Columbus School (K-8), James J. Curiale School (K-8), Luis Munoz Marin School (K-8) and Harding High School. The OSS Task Force has recommended the following:
- Provide additional training for teachers to de-escalate confrontations in classrooms both between teachers and students as well as between students.
- Promote proactive strategies to increase positive behavior before suspension becomes the behavioral consequence.
- Establish teams at each school to pioneer and model alternatives to OSS.
- Establish After-School and Saturday Restorative Justice Academies.
Restorative Practices are successfully used for classroom management; collaborative pedagogy; student support; emotional awareness and literacy; building a positive school climate; alternate discipline; and strengthening positive connections with parents and the community. BCAC is partnering with the Bridgeport Public Schools to train and implement Restorative Practice teams in four pilot schools: Columbus School (K-8), James J. Curiale School (K-8), Luis Munoz Marin School (K-8) and Harding High School. BCAC’s leadership in the Out-of-School Suspensions (OSS) Task Force brought Restorative Practice training to Bridgeport with the aim of implementing it district-wide.
Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The CBITS program is a school-based, group and individual intervention. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. TF-CBT is a child-and-parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. As a member of the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Community Engagement Strategy Core Team, BCAC is supporting the initial implementation and planning for sustainability of school-based trauma services for the Bridgeport community.