Buffalo County schools and childcare centers continue to use Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tools to help children thrive both in the classroom and in life. Since the fall of 2014, Buffalo County schools and early learning childcare facilities have been implementing an SEL curriculum, Second Step.

The Second Step curriculum gives students the tools to excel in and out of the classroom by challenging them in emotion management, situational awareness and academic achievement. Currently, there are 109 Second Step kits being utilized throughout Buffalo County. 88 new classrooms will be using it for the coming 2018-2019 school year. Through the use of the curriculum, Buffalo County students in preschool through fifth grade showed an overall improvement of 37% in all 11 SEL areas. These areas can be broken down into three categories: Structural Skills, Interpersonal Skills and Emotional Maturity. The graphs below show how students improved in each category throughout the school year.

Structural Skills

  • Using good listening skills increased by 42%
  • Able to focus and follow directions increased by 46%
  • Able to ask for wants or needs increased by 29%
  • Using problem solving skills increased by 52%












Interpersonal Skills

  • Offers help to others increased by 36%
  • Shares readily with others increased by 34%
  • Makes and keeps friends increased by 22%
  • Shows care and concern for others increased by 35%











Emotional Maturity

  • Able to express feelings in a healthy manner increased by 42%
  • Able to understand and calm down strong feelings increased by 36%
  • Shows age appropriate social/emotional development increased by 28%











The curriculum is funded by the CHI Health Mission and Ministry Violence Prevention Grant and the Juvenile Justice Community-Based Aid Grant. The schools who are currently implementing and participating in the Second Step curriculum include:

·         Ravenna ·         Buffalo Hills Elementary School
·         Amherst ·         Bryant Elementary School
·         Pleasanton ·         Central Elementary School
·         Gibbon ·         Emerson Elementary School
·         Shelton ·         Glenwood Elementary School
·         Elm Creek ·         Meadowlark Elementary School
·         Horizon Middle School ·         Park Elementary School
·         Northeast Elementary School ·         Windy Hills Elementary School
·         Kenwood Elementary School


The childcare facilities include:

·         KPS Bright Futures Preschool ·         Holy Cross Lutheran Church
·         YMCA ·         First Lutheran Church
·         First Baptist Preschool ·         Learning Tree
·         Pumpkin Patch Preschool ·         Smiling Faces Academy
·         Kidtopia ·         Cradles to Crayons
·         Little Fish Preschool ·         Hand ‘N’ Hand
·         UNK Child Development Center ·         Little Beginnings
·         Sonshine World


In addition to the Second Step curriculum, the community has also been using the Pyramid Model, an approach for supporting and teaching social and emotional skills to young children in childcare centers and family childcare homes. Kearney Public Schools held a Pyramid Introductory Training for 19 early childhood and Kindergarten teachers in June. This training is a tool that early childhood educators and caregivers use to promote young children’s development and prevent and address challenging behaviors. This training was a partnered effort though Buffalo County Community Partners, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Kearney Public Schools and CHI Health Good Samaritan.

A Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT) reliability workshop was also conducted for 21 participants from around the state. The TPOT is an observation tool that measures the implementation of classroom practices specifically related to promoting young children’s social-emotional competence and addressing challenging behavior in the preschool classroom. This workshop was brought together through partnerships of Buffalo County Community Partners, University of Nebraska Kearney, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and funded in party by the CHI Behavioral Health Mission and Ministry Grant.

“Social emotional development is really giving children the skills they need to learn how to listen, pay attention manage their emotions and get along with others—what we can do now to help them thrive in the future. Through one of our early childhood initiatives, Rooted in Relationships, teachers and childcare providers are provided tools on how to teach these social emotional skills. With the TPOT reliability training, classroom teachers will now be able to evaluate the outcomes of these practices”, says Tana Miller of Buffalo County Community Partners.

We encourage you to talk with your schools and childcare facilities about the Second Step curriculum. If you would like more information about Second Step, please contact Maggie Lesiak at assistant@bcchp.org.

More Information on Resources Implemented:

Social Emotional Learning– https://www.cfchildren.org/programs/social-emotional-learning/

Second Step– http://www.secondstep.org/what-is-second-step

Pyramid Model– http://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/index.html

TPOT– https://www.brookespublishing.com/product/tpot/

Rooted in Relationships– http://rootedinrelationships.org/

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