STEVENSVILLE — Parents of elementary-aged students at Lakeshore Public Schools will notice a change on their children’s report card when they receive it in a couple of weeks.

The “Learner Behaviors” section will instead be called the “Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)” section, said Assistant Superintendent Julie Powell.

SEL is the process of helping students develop the skills and behaviors needed so they can manage their emotions and make good choices, said two of the district’s elementary school counselors Monday at the Lakeshore school board meeting.

“We are the original SEL teachers,” said Dayna Galloway, the counselor at Stewart Elementary School. “Part of our job is to really get down to the why behind some of the student’s behaviors and get the why behind them struggling academically and really help see the whole child.”

She said they’ve been doing this at Lakeshore for 20 years or more. What’s new is that this fall the district started using a data-driven curriculum, Second Step, thanks to a grant from the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation.

Counselor Megan Hines at Roosevelt Elementary School said students are coming to school with more trauma and stress, and teachers don’t always know what to do.

“Not only are we helping the students with what they need, we’re helping the teachers know how to work with some of these needs, too,” she said. “It’s not just us. It’s us, the teachers, the families all working together to help the kids get what they need.”

Powell said that almost two years ago, the district started the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives initiative so the district would be more purposeful in addressing not only students’ social and emotional needs, but the needs of their families.

Hines said the SEL model has the children learning how to make responsible decisions, develop relationship skills and manage their behavior for life.

“Not only do they get exposure through our 30-minute SEL lessons (weekly), but we’re also branching SEL out into the (general education) classrooms,” she said. “The (general education) teachers are able to bring some SEL skills to their classrooms. And we’re doing this at a school level, at a district level and then at a community level through conferences and educational nights.”

Research shows that students who participate in school-based SEL programs have, on average, an 11 percent increase in standardized achievement test scores, a 9 percent reduction in problem behaviors and a 10 percent reduction in emotional stress, the counselors said a recent study found. 

In other business, trustees welcomed Griffin Ott as the board’s newest trustee. He is the office manager of Ott Insurance Agency in Baroda and a former firefighter.

Ott replaces Michael Welch, former board vice president who died last month. 

Trustee Kevin Bushu, the board’s secretary, was elected as the new vice president. Trustee Rachel Wade became the board’s new secretary.

Bushu gave a report on what the district’s Administrative Affairs Committee is doing about the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and has afflicted 10 people in Michigan, with five of them dying so far.

He said the district’s maintenance staff is walking through the district every day to remove standing water that the mosquitoes could breed in.

Coaches and supervisors for after-school activities have been given insect repellent for students who are outside in the late afternoon and evenings for school events, he said, although students are not mandated to apply the repellent if they don’t want to. 

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege