Social & Emotional Learning


We hold students’ social and emotional
needs on the same level of importance

as their academic needs. Research shows that the trauma of war and displacement not only affects students’ abilities to learn but also increases stress, anxiety, and depression. As part of our holistic approach to education, we believe that teachers must understand and be prepared to address students’ socio-emotional and cultural needs in the same way they are ready to meet students’ academic needs.

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and emotional learning allows students to acquire and apply the knowledge and skills they need to understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions.

An important aspect of supporting students’ SEL is providing trauma-informed care. Our students may have experienced trauma due to displacement, conflict, and violence. Research has shown that trauma-informed care can be especially important for underserved ethnic minority youth; few ethnic minority youth living in under-resourced neighborhoods receive mental health services to address the negative developmental outcomes from trauma (

At GVP we recognize that if students’ social and emotional needs aren’t being met, they cannot focus on learning. Students cannot learn effectively when they are burdened by the effects of trauma or when they do not have strong communication and emotion regulation skills.

How we support Social & Emotional Learning

At GVP, our SEL program focuses on the social, emotional, intellectual, creative, and physical growth of refugee newcomer girls.

100% of students participate in:

  • Weekly group counseling
  • Rotating special classes focusing on Women’s Health Education
  • Physical and emotional wellness education (including yoga, Girls on the Run and Heart and Sole teams, etc.)
  • Weekly drama classes offered by Synchronicity Theatre’s Playmaking for Girls teaching artists
  • Arts integration that is incorporated into all content area classes, encouraging self-expression and creativity

Staff and volunteers are trained by the Center for Victims of Torture on the various negative developmental outcomes students may face. Our faculty also receive training in fostering responsive classroom environments, “safe” and “break-out” space procedures for attending to students’ needs, and restorative disciplinarian practices. Exposure to these interventions at a trauma-informed school can reduce the need for future mental-health services and help students acquire skills that contribute to stronger resilience.