A school counselor in Miami shares his inspiring SEL success stories
By Kristin Clark Taylor
School counselor Tyrone Thompkins uses the QuaverSEL curriculum to soothe, calm, and inspire his students.
Today is the day educators everywhere celebrate CASEL’s “International SEL Day,” and with good reason: Social and Emotional Learning is accelerating the growth and development of students in classrooms in every corner of the USA.
Want proof? Just ask Tyrone Thompkins, a school counselor at Crestview Elementary in Miami Gardens, Florida. Thompkins is a source of strength and inspiration to his students. His office, a place of peace and positivity. Thompkins celebrates “SEL Day” every, single day. You can hear it when he speaks: His sense of compassion splashes over everything.
Thompkins readily concedes that many of his students face significant challenges on a variety of different levels — not just in the classroom, but at home as well. The good news, he says, is that having QuaverSEL in his toolbox (and at his fingertips) equips him with the resources he needs to help them face and embrace these challenges.
“Lots of my kids struggle intellectually and emotionally,” he says. “Lots of them, especially the younger ones, just don’t know how to process some of the emotions they’re facing. QuaverSEL is the tool I use to help them understand themselves – and each other — better. Everybody benefits from the curriculum … but it seems like my most challenged students benefit the most. QuaverSEL is there for them.”
QuaverSEL Helps at Home, too.
“We tend to underestimate the challenges and issues many young people face every day of their lives,” Thompkins says with a little sadness his voice.
“You’d be surprised at what some young people have to face behind the closed doors of their homes. So it’s about more than just understanding their difficulties; it’s about helping them get through their challenges, too. The stuff they learn from QuaverSEL actually helps them at home, too. So the benefits reach way beyond the classroom and my office. The songs and lessons help at home, too.”
QuaverSEL does more than just provide tools to help his students navigate through adversity, Thompkins says. The curriculum’s emphasis on embracing values is also vital — values like kindness, empathy, and respect.
“We have a thing in Miami Dade Public Schools called ‘Values Matter,’ where we focus on a different value each month,” he explains. “I like to match the QuaverSEL lesson with whatever value it is that we’re celebrating that month.”
“Take kindness, for example. My kids like to sing the songs about kindness because it makes them happy. But it also teaches them ways to be kind. Plus, I talk to them all the time about how to be kind: If someone in front of you in line has to stop and tie their shoe, do you wait patiently and show kindness to them, or do you act all impatient? You show kindness!” he finishes. “We talk through this stuff all the time.”
Thompkins says the youngest students often reap the greatest benefits.
“My younger students might still be learning to read, which is why being able to sing the songs and play the games makes such a big difference,” he says with love. “Everybody loves to sing a good song. And everybody is touched by music, no matter if you’re young or old.”
Thompkins definitely has his hands full: “I have three hundred students to reach,” he says, “and I want to do it in way that lets them know I understand.”
So the bright flame of QuaverSEL is spreading like wildfire throughout classrooms and counseling offices across the USA, igniting healthy discussion and extinguishing the fears, the pressures, and the anxieties that many young people live with every, single day. Flames like this ignite growth, inspire deeper understanding, and encourage honest, respectful communication.
Indeed, Thompkins is practicing what he preaches and teaches. His main lessons:
Let’s be kind to one another.
Let’s communicate openly and honestly.
Let’s be patient with one another.
Let’s care for one another.
Creating a culture of caring – which happens to be QuaverSEL’s appropriately-named tagline – is what it’s all about.
Not just on SEL Day, but every day.
Kristin Clark Taylor is an author and a journalist.