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2017 Honors in Action: Report

2017 Honors In Action Project This project was based on the research and development of ideas conducted by the Beta Iota Kappa chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at San Diego City College. The Honors in Action Committee worked hard to evaluate and research programs, systems, or philosophies regarding the well being of children in the United States of America. The research has provided the chapter with unique opportunities to explore many avenues but they have settled on implementing Social and Emotional learning in the K-12 public school system as a core aspect of the curriculum. Anne Englehart, ex-officio chair of the HIA committee, was key to keeping the project moving along and staying on target, even with a sudden change in focus late in the year. Other leaders on the team have sought opportunities to grow with this project and have collaborated to plan a course of action to effect the change they wished to see. Upon an initial run of the project the stark realities of all sorts of abuse among children became a motivating factor for the team. Empowered by their well-received speech regarding Social and Emotional Learning the chapter wishes to continue forward with their action project with the strong faith that this will truly help thousands if not millions of children around the United States and perhaps the world. Rights and Responsibilities This theme was selected after going through a few phases of discussions and voting. Our chapter initially went with the theme of Individualism and Collectivism as it related to homelessness around the San Diego region and specifically within the college population. A short time after efforts were underway, one of our Officers asked if we could change the topic and focus. The story of an 8-year old boy, named Gabriel Fernandez being tortured and killed sparked a passionate drive in him and he offered to take the lead on the Honors in Action project. The chapter voted based on the evidence presented and thus changed our focus. We decided to form a question which we believe is important to more than just our local community but to the United States and the world as well. Our children have the right to live a life of innocence, so what are our responsibilities as society to ensure this happens for our children? From our research we came to the conclusion that; In order to diminish the amount of youth violence, toward others and self, in children of the K-12 school system, Social and Emotional Learning needs to be a staple in their education. From this conclusion we began more research to see if our school district currently participated in this system, what local schools, if any, participated and how was the process going, and how we could make a move to make a change in our own school and community. The HIA Committee found out that while at the classroom level teachers and professors were allowed to utilize SEL systems it is not a recognized approach by the School District. We found our goal, initiating action within the school district to begin making change. We also found out that the Sacramento school district is participating in SEL so we began to seek an ally in our process. Over a series of meetings we met each of the different aspects of the Honors in Action process with mental clarity and prowess. The energy needed to make the strongest action project came through and the ball really started rolling with brainstorming and free-writing. Tables were drawn, scribbles and arrows were all over our papers but the form started to come together. We agreed that every element had a direct effect on at least one other so we decided to work smart not hard. All of our objectives would effect two of the different elements. Following is what we came up with. Academic Rigor of Research – Identify an under utilized system/program/ or philosophy that can help children. Identify how such program, etc. works with supporting evidence of its effectiveness. Describe more than three scholarly references for support or research done by others. Resourcefulness – Utilize committee members past experiences/classes/childhood as starting point to research. Identify ease and uniqueness of program/system/ or philosophy for incorporation. Observe Leadership opportunities taken by committee members. Leadership and Development – Identify key Leads based on research vigor and drive. Define areas of need based on HIA manual and inventory of what we have. Investigate and define learning opportunities for committee members. Service and Action - Identify areas where as a chapter we can make immediate change. Search and Identify unique ways our research can be applied locally. Determine how far we can go with the research and or project. Name other companies or groups doing what we're doing and observe how they are doing it. Cooperative Effort/Outreach – Contact companies or groups currently working toward same goal and interact with them. Identify other school districts currently using SEL and get testimony and any other supporting evidence they can provide. Reach out to teacher's unions to see what they think about SEL or if they currently participate. Go to SD Unified School District with presentation. Impact – Place a positive image on SEL through presentation and proper representation. Show college administration that we mean business when we set out to do something. Show other students and community that our chapter is active and seeking to improve things. Our main collaborator in this project was our Advisor Professor Elizabeth Meehan. She helped steer some of our objectives and action items while leaving us with further research questions. She also helped identify other areas of impact this specific Action project could reach to including the teachers union and individual teachers/professors. Anne Englehart – Vice President & Ex-officio chair of the Honors in Action committee. She spent a significant amount of time building a team to work together on this project. Well before summer began Anne was planning and implementing the checklist released by to ensure we had a solid HIA for this year. It was through her work that we voted on our original Theme and spent time developing our objectives toward an award winning Action project. She has also played a significant supporting role to other submissions/scholarships/ and applications which has proven her ability to master grace under pressure. Nadia Escobar – President – Nadia has taken a leadership role in discovering “the other side” of the conversation. Our fist topic regarding homelessness led her to Tijuana where she brought back newspaper articles in Spanish and from a different culture for our use in the project. Since the change in topic she has remained vigilant and continues to share more information regarding the welfare of children both in Mexico and here in the United States. This sort of attention to detail has been highly valued in our research of the project. Nina Webb – Ex-Treasurer – Nina Webb has since left our chapter but while part of it she volunteered to conduct research and write our Honors Case Study Challenge. Her time and willingness to collaborate on the project showed her true leadership ability by giving others the feeling of being included. Presenting draft after draft of the Case study she was a key person to the development of the thesis and the direction of the action. Caleb Mertz – Secretary – Caleb was the one who came to the table one day and asked if we could possibly change the entire direction of the project. He'd recently learned of an 8-year old boy in Los Angeles who was tortured for eight months until he died, all because the parents thought he was gay. Caleb, a gay man felt this weigh as a heavy burden on him and offered to take the reigns of the project. He has since reached out to many of the programs we researched, and has been in contact with the school district and other districts as well. HIA Committee – Lead by Anne Englehart – This group, has mainly helped with researching of the topics and of other important information such as where and how to implement what we learned. The committee acts as the ultimate leader in this project as whatever the committee decides is exactly the direction the project has gone. It's a valuable part of the process as it is here where important and insightful ideas are shared and discussed. Anne, Nadia, and Caleb have all attended the regional conference where many speeches were held regarding leadership and what it looks like. Nadia has completed her five-star competitive edge program while Caleb and Anne have begun their own. Within the last school year all three helped host a Leadership workshop for other members where they drew on personal experiences and their own definitions of Leadership to teach others. Caleb, significantly excelled in his Public speaking class which will be paramount in the advancement of this project to the school board and beyond. The action of this project was almost entirely inspired by the research conducted. It wasn't until we decided on a path based on the research done that we started to see a real possibility for action taking form. Among the many different ways for SEL to be implemented the most captivating one was one which involved the entire district to effect as many young people as possible. CASEL or the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning had the most impressive data and has already been implemented in school systems across the United States. It was this then that showed the process could be done and that it was a relatively easy transition to begin this kind of learning in the schools. This is what then led our research to find solid information that could be presented to the school board for review and possible implementation. The chapter conducted a poll of a diverse classroom in a general studies class to ascertain some statistics of what others experienced in their lives and what they thought of Emotional Learning. This poll was done in advance of any activity of the chapter to change the views of the individuals. What we learned was invaluable to our research. Out of a class of 23, 14 took the poll. Students were asked if as a child they ever experienced any of the following. The results follow the option, students were allowed to choose more than one thing. Bullied - 50% Sexually Abused – 7% Mentally Abused – 22% Emotionally Abused – 43% Neglected – 43% In home during a Divorce – 22% Single Parent Household – 43% Alcoholism w/Parents – 36% Gone Hungry due to Poverty – 36% Bulimic/Anorexic/Eating Disorder – 7% Substance abuse in home – 7% Homelessness – 14% Fostered – 7% The above statistics showed that out of the 14 who took the poll, on average each person experienced 3.5 of the above in the home as a child. When asked if they thought their parents were fit enough to teach them how to manage their emotions we received the following results: yes – 14% no – 29% little yes, little no – 57% This showed us that there was a significant slant to doubting the ability of their parents to teach them the best ways to manage their emotions and react to them in a healthy manner. The entire group was on the fence about whether it fell on the responsibility of schools to teach children how to deal with these types of situations. Caleb Mertz then presented to this classroom on our research to let them all know there are options out there that can help change the way of the future. We did not conduct an exit poll. We learned that data gained from the internet and other scholarly resources is especially important to brainstorming and coming up with the ideas but direct feedback from the target audience is vital to reaching the people that will be listening. We are working toward getting on the school districts future meeting agenda to speak about our research. Seeing where it goes from there will determine if we will attempt to get the signatures necessary to take it to vote and/or if we will be taking this to neighboring districts and possibly to the state as well. While Phi Theta Kappa Beta Iota Kappa chapter is been instrumental in starting this process off it is within the individual goals of Secretary Caleb Mertz to make sure this action project becomes part of his future. (2016). Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from Nov. 12, 2017 a.) This source helped start our research and proved to be one of the most informative of all the sources we found. This packet explains specific scientific data that has been collected from the use of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in public school systems at select school districts across the United States. It also outlines the specific programs and the 5 levels of SEL needed to properly implement the program into either the classroom or district wide. Resource 2 Adolescent Suicide. Retrieved from accessed Nov. 12, 2017 a.) This website gave us grave but important insight into what tends to revolve around self-violence when it comes to the youth in our nation. This is significant supporting information to the importance of intervention at the school level. Resource 3 Greenberg, M. T., Domitrovich, C. E., Weissberg, R. P., & Durlak, J. A. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning as a Public Health Approach to Education. Future Of Children, 27(1), 13-32. Retrieved from a.) This source supports our main focus of using SEL as a method to intervene and promote better mental health and social awareness of children through their learning. This peer reviewed article highlights the pros and the cons of such an approach with a clear advocation for the initiation of SEL learning in the public school systems. Resource 4 Kendziora, K., Yoder, N., & Education Policy Center at American Institutes for, R. (2016). When Districts Support and Integrate Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): Findings from an Ongoing Evaluation of Districtwide Implementation of SEL. Retrieved from a.) This article is an outside company review of SEL in the classrooms of certain schools. It relays their findings and recommendations of implementation of SEL distrcit wide. The general assertion of this article is that SEL is most effective when implemented in the classroom but also expanded to extracurricular activities, the district, and to the home as well. Resource 5 Olesen, T. (2012, Nov. 27). How Social and Emotional Learning Could Harm Our Kids. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from a.) This source is an attempt to be un-biased in our research. The noted concerns brought up in this article (one of the only one's we could find AGAINST SEL) are easily diminished with the research conducted by our chapter. The many sources listed show validated and tested benefits and results from SEL which would qualm any concern brought up in this article. Resource 6 Wood, H. (2016) Invitation to Peace Studies. Oxford. Oxford University Press. a.) This text book is used in our college's PEACE101 Class and has listed some psychological aspects that we as humans need to help diminish violence. One in particular is the need to feel as part of something either a family or a group. This data lead us to the thought of Foster children waiting for their forever home. It also supplied daunting statistics that supplemented those of adolescent suicide and self-violence. Resource 7 Pratt, K. (2014, Feb. 3). Psychology tools: What is anger? A secondary emotion. Retrieved from a.) Every speech needs a hook and this website helped us develop the one for our speech. Resource 8 Accessed Dec. 6, 2017. a.) This website led us to relevant information regarding our local school district. From this site we learned our district doesn't participate in SEL. It has helped gain access to contacts and important dates and times.


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