Wheaton Christian Grammar School has been blessed with the ability to hire a part-time school social worker to assist our students with their social-emotional needs throughout the school day. Mandy Jasper was hired for this position in the fall of 2018 and has been working through a variety of needs with our students such as emotional identification, self-regulation, self-management techniques, anxiety, depression, grief, friendship and family concerns, and conflict resolution.
The Lord first brought Mandy to WCGS as a school mom. She and her husband desired to have their daughters in a school environment where the whole child would be nurtured - mind, body, and spirit. They felt welcomed by the teachers and administration at WCGS, and their personal touches assured them their daughters would be loved and cared for.
The year before their last daughter enrolled at WCGS, Mandy started to have conversations with Mr. Clum about the potential addition of a school social worker, and eventually, she was hired to enter this role.
“My heart leapt with joy for multiple reasons when I got this job: For the ability to integrate my faith into my social work practice, becoming part of a collaborative team of teachers who love their students, and thanksgiving to the Lord for opening a door for me to re-enter a field I am deeply passionate about.”
Some of you might be wondering, what is social-emotional learning and why is it so important to teach? Mandy explains:
“The term social-emotional learning (SEL) has a buzz throughout schools around the nation and is for every single student. SEL makes communities vibrant and healthy, as it teaches skills that correlate with God's wanting us to be peacemakers and Kingdom changers. At WCGS, we have the responsibility to weave biblical truth into SEL teaching, and it is powerful to see this interplay. When students can identify emotions, problem-solve, and self-manage, they have positive interactions with self and others. This leads to healthy interactions while developing 21st century skills.”
“SEL has five key competencies: understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions. The process of these five skills is foundational for students to be able to connect to self and others in a safe, caring environment. These are skills we want our children to have for future relationships, families, and work environments.”
Currently, we are seeing a rise in anxiety and depression in our children along with other mental health concerns. SEL is not only used in times of personal or family crisis but in daily life. Mandy says that it has been powerful to see students absorb what they are learning through these lessons. They have taught children to be able to center their minds and bodies while thinking about the Lord.
"I had a kindergartner say, 'Ahh, that felt good,' after practicing rainbow breathing (talking about the covenant of God) and a 2nd grader said, 'I feel brave,' after a lesson. I've seen 4th graders team up and deal with conflict resolution to get out of an escape room and received emails from 8th grade parents, after doing a lesson on dealing with change, saying that they realized from that experience that their child was hesitant about leaving WCGS. They were then able to have follow-up conversations and put additional supports in their child's life."
Regardless of age, the benefit is ever-present, and it is exciting to see children engage in this special way at WCGS. With decades of research, the many benefits of SEL are evident, such as: increased academic achievement, improved behavior, and decreased emotional distress. God created us to be emotion-filled people, and since WCGS teaches the whole child, we get to teach SEL from a biblical perspective.
We are thankful for Mandy and the many ways she assists our students. If you have questions or want further information on the SEL lessons that are being taught at WCGS, you can email Mandy at . She has most recently been hired as the WCGS Student Services Director in addition to being the school social worker!