Two Toledo Public schools, East Side Central Elementary (ESC) and Sherman Elementary, have jumped up in the ranks of the Ohio Department of Education’s report card rating scale. ESC was classified as “Academic Watch” and rose two levels to “Effective” while Sherman climbed one level from “Academic Emergency” to “Academic Watch.” The scale adopted by the State of Ohio has five stratifications: Academic Emergency, Academic Watch, Continuous Improvement, Effective, and Excellent. The improvement in both schools is being credited, in part, to the United Way’s Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) program currently operating at each institution. SEL was introduced by the Women’s Initiative of of United Way, the Toledo Federation of Teachers, and the Toledo Association of Administrative Professionals to increase graduation rates and to lower the incidence of suspensions and teen pregnancies. The program uses teachers to model social and emotional behavior as an example to students, offers direct instruction of social and emotional skills, and provides a supportive and cooperative environment for students to practice what they’ve learned. In the wake of SEL’s implementation, ESC and Sherman observed a decline in suspension and discipline rates as well as improved academics and respect for teachers. To learn more about SEL, visit www.unitedwaytoledo.org/education.