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Friday, May 2, 2014

A note from the Mayor: A crucial aspect of learning

On Monday, gales of wind and driving rain notwithstanding, I was thrilled to welcome Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to Harriet Island. Together with the National League of Cities and the YMCA of the USA, the U.S. Department of the Interior  made a commitment, building off of our work locally, to connect urban youth to the great outdoors.

This coming Monday, together with the University of Minnesota, I will join U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary James Shelton, researchers, superintendents, mayors and leaders in the youth and faith communities in a push for more focus on integrating social and emotional learning into our students’ education, both inside and outside of the classroom.

And in the middle of May, I will welcome U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to Saint Paul to learn about our pipeline of academic and work opportunities that prepare youth for college and career success—initiatives like our successful new Right Track youth employment program.

At first glance, the three events may seem disconnected—but they couldn’t be more linked.
More and more, experts are finding that the most important factor in a child’s success is not their academic achievement alone, but their social and emotional development of skills like perseverance and having a growth mindset. These are skills that help students overcome failure, focus on tasks-at-hand, take on leadership roles and simply function in a well-rounded way as one matures.
This social and emotional education is a crucial aspect of what our children should be learning—and they don’t just get it through their interactions in the classroom. They get it through rich life experiences, like the challenges they encounter when they spend a week in a national park, the attitudes and experiences they have in a high-quality afterschool program, or the skills they build during a summer working hard at a local business through a strong internship program.
Too many of our kids don’t get opportunities for these types of experiences that equip them with the attitudes and behaviors they need to succeed. I’m pleased that our efforts in Saint Paul are gaining national traction, and will continue to work hard to ensure our education programs -- both inside and outside the classroom – focus on the development of the whole child.

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