In Colorado, the Sounds of Social and Emotional Learning

This SEL Specialist Created a “Whole-School” Model Using QuaverReady

By Kristin Clark Taylor

Through the Darkness, Light.


Listen closely. 

Stand in any classroom at Second Creek Elementary in Commerce City, Colorado — or even in the hallways! — and you’ll hear it loud and clear: The sound of Social and Emotional Learning being brought to life. 

Just ask Sheri Olson, the SEL Specialist at Second Creek who created the innovative “whole-school” model where all of the teachers utilize QuaverReady.

“I’m fortunate to oversee and coordinate the use of QuaverReady throughout the entire school,” says Olson, sounding enthusiastic, appreciative, and, yes — I’m certain I hear it in her voice — even joyous.   

But “joyous” is not the word she would have used to describe herself just a few short years ago, when she and her colleagues were hit with a crisis unlike any they’d ever known.

She looks back, a bit more somber now.

“When the pandemic hit, everything changed,” she remembers. “It was a challenging time for everyone. Those were definitely dark days.”

But through the darkness shone a beacon of bright light—and that light was QuaverReady.

“During the pandemic,” Olson says, “we discovered pretty quickly that using QuaverReady for the first 25 minutes of every morning helped create a sense of togetherness and a sense of calm for everyone –not just for the students, but for the teachers, too.” 

Even today, Olson says, the entire school uses QuaverReady songs to get everyone geared up and feeling good.

But QuaverReady is far more than just a morning tool: Olson says that her teachers are thrilled to have quick and easy access to the resource at any time of day!

An Expansive Perspective

As I listen to Sheri speak, I realize that everything about this exceptional educator is expansive and far-reaching — whether it’s the way she’s designed this whole-school model at Second Creek Elementary or the trajectory of her multi-faceted career.

In addition to being an SEL Specialist, she’s also a counselor, a social worker, and a highly-regarded leader in her field. (“I’m a social worker in a counselor’s job,” is the way she lovingly describes her role).

Several years ago, as a board member of the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), Olson led a group of fellow social workers through a pilot using QuaverReady so that they could experience the curriculum for themselves.

As soon as the pilot was complete, Olson says she knew exactly what she had to do … so she did it!

“I went right to my principal and told her that QuaverReady is an amazing resource and that everybody — the teachers and the kids — absolutely loved it!

The principal’s immediate reaction, Olson recalls, was resoundingly (and immediately) supportive.

She told me, “Great! If you’re sold on this new curriculum, then it must be wonderful … let’s do it!”

And so began their journey with QuaverReady.

Olson, who also oversees the Social and Emotional Learning committee for the SSWAA, appreciates the fact that SSWAA standards and competencies are addressed throughout the QuaverReady curriculum.

“There are some very important predictabilities in the curriculum that our teachers have come to count on,” Olson says. “For all of us, standards and competencies play a very important role, and QuaverReady adheres to them all.”

The Best View of All

“When I do my classroom check-ins,” Olson says, “I’ll see teachers engaging their students with QuaverReady in many different ways.”

The Colorado educator recalls a recent classroom visit: “I looked in, and the students were enjoying the song Walk in Your Shoes, she says. “All I saw were smiles!”

“There was a line leader, then they formed a circle, and everybody was having fun expressing their different emotions,” she says happily … “and these were kindergartners!” 

When our interview is finished, I realize I forgot to ask Sheri a question: Does her classroom have a view of the mountains, by any chance? It’s something I was genuinely curious about.

I smile to myself when I realize that the scene she’d just described – a classroom filled with smiling faces – is every bit as sweeping and majestic as the mountains themselves.

In fact, it’s the best view of all. 

Want to bring more smiles into your classroom? Get QuaverReady! Visit QuaverEd.com/Ready


Kristin Clark Taylor is an author and a journalist.


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