New course brings middle school students new awareness

Teacher stands in front of two rows of students.

Veteran Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk social worker, Kathy Durivage, has been working with RCS middle school students for 13 years. This fall, she launched a new program, teaching a social, emotional and learning “SEL” class. Durivage will be teaching students “Second Step” curriculum and the practice of mindfulness.

Second Step is a highly researched, evidence-based social emotional curriculum that is widely used across this country and abroad. The program uses discussion, video and interactive activities to teach students empathy, effective communication skills, bullying prevention, emotional management, problem solving skills and substance abuse education.   

“The class is really nice to have,” eighth-grader Franklyn Bruini said. “ It helps us emotionally and mentally.”

Each grade will tackle the same topics, however, the curriculum changes to accommodate each grades’ developmental vocabulary and skills. This allows for continuity of concepts that will, hopefully, remain with the students for the the remainder of their academic career and life.

In addition to the Second Step program,  Durivage will be teaching mindfulness to students through lessons such as breathing exercises, awareness activities and guided meditation.

“The purpose of mindfulness is to help students bring focus back into their lives and back to the task at hand,” Durivage said. “Mindfulness has shown to reduce frustrations, anxiety, anger, and stress in students.”

Mindfulness can help students become more self-aware of their emotions and mental habits and respond more effectively to situations, rather than merely “reacting” to what’s going on around them. Mindfulness can increase tolerance, compassion, kindness, curiosity and the ability to think more clearly.