Lewis sharing the Choose Love campaign with an audience at Reno High School. The Choose Love campaign aims to implement Social and Emotional Learning in schools.

Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, spoke at Reno High School on Tuesday, April 3make sure date is right before publishing.

Lewis shared the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a “charitable organization with a mission to ensure that every child has access to Social and Emotional Learning,” according to jesselewischooselove.org.

“Social and Emotional Learning is teaching kids and adults how to have healthy and positive relationships, deep and meaningful connections, how to manage conflict, skills, and tools to learn resilience, how to identify, label, and manage emotions,” Lewis said. “These skills and tools aren’t something we are born with.”

Bonnie Carlson, a Washoe County educator and mother, attended the presentation as an advocate for Social and Emotional Learning.

“We want to do it better, we want to make it great for our kids,” Carlson said. “That’s why we are here.”

The Washoe County school district has integrated Social and Emotional Learning into classrooms since the 2012-13 school year. According to WCSD, implementing Social and Emotional Learning has shown lower rates of suspension and absenteeism in students, lower risk for dropout and a higher likelihood to graduate on-time.

“That’s not something we even learn in college to teach in our classrooms,” said Nicole Foster, an education student at the University of Nevada, Reno. “So now that there is so much research done to show that

this is something that is proven to change the safety of schools and our future jobs, I don’t know why this isn’t mandatory.”

Lewis talked about the importance of the Choose Love Equation and its character values: courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion.

“If we can teach our kids love and show them they are loved, then I think we can be the change,” said Kelsie Siporem, an education student at the university.

“Social and Emotional learning is the #1 way to improve safety at schools,” however, Lewis said, “There are lots of obstacles, so a lot of the programming is very expensive, and it takes extensive teacher training.”

Lewis worked with educators to write a Social and Emotional learning curriculum that is now offered for free, called the Choose Love Enrichment Program. “We created this program to transcend all the barriers so that every child can have access to Social and Emotional learning,” Lewis said.

This program has reached all 50 states and over 50 countries, impacting about 478,235 students, according to the Choose Love website’s impact statistics.

For more information about the Choose Love Enrichment program, the Choose Love Movement and Social and Emotional Learning, go to www.jesselewischooselove.org.

Alyssa Shook can be reached at karolinar@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @karolinarrivas