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ARTICLE: - Schools spotlight social, emotional learning amid complex times

In a heightened 21st century world, young people are rife with issues arguably of epidemic proportions. Schools in Portsmouth and Exeter New Hampshire are doing something about it – Open Circle!

In an article on, Schools spotlight social, emotional learning amid complex times, the Open Circle social and emotional learning (SEL) program is highlighted as one of the ways schools are building community and creating a safe place for students.

“There are so many stressors that happen outside of school,” Simons said, pointing to the impacts of social media and addiction on children and families as two examples. “We need to provide children with the language to share their feelings and emotions, and then handle them in an appropriate way.”


Simons said the “true test” with any SEL curriculum is seeing how students carry those lessons outside of the classroom. New Franklin staff have been trained to use “Open Circle” language, so messaging is consistent across the entire school.

Open Circle has been in Portsmouth’s 3 elementary schools since 2000, training 160 of their teachers and specialists. At SAU 16-Exeter, Open Circle is used in 5 of their 7 elementary schools and have trained 220 teachers and specialists since 2010.

There continues to be growing interest in the southern New Hampshire region and Open Circle is expanding in many of those school districts.

Much of the student, teaching, and community needs mentioned in this article are addressed within the various research and action projects of Wellesley Centers for Women. Open Circle is excited and proud to be part of this community!

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