Dec. 12, 2019— On the morning of Dec. 10, Superintendent David Healy and many others were in Trenton rallying for Toms River Regional Schools to have its state funding restored. Part of its underlying argument, aside from being woefully underfunded, is that TRRS is a model district in efficiency and student-centered academic excellence. That contrast between the district’s funding plight and its sterling academic reputation was on full display as the day progressed to evening, and Healy and his colleagues found themselves in New York City being honored as a model of social-emotional learning (SEL) excellence.
Indeed, Toms River Regional Schools has been identified as a 2019 HI Impact Awardee by Hello Insight for its Summer Peer Leadership Camp. District leaders and personnel who helped develop the camp, as well as the camp’s signature donors, were celebrated last night at CUNY Graduate Center in The Segal Theater in NYC.
HI Impact Awardees performed in the top four percent of all programs that used Hello Insight during the 2018/19 school year and summer.
“The Toms River Leadership Program provided young people with exceptionally-high-quality, research-based experiences that promoted statistically significant growth in social and emotional learning (SEL),” wrote Hello Insight CEO Dr. Kim Sabo Flores in a message to the district announcing its selection.
In attendance at the event from TRRS were Beachwood Elementary Supervisor James Klass, Director of Curriculum K-5 Cara DiMeo, Asssistant Superintendent Deb McKenna, and Superintendent David Healy. Also in attendance were Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation Executive Director Heather Barberi and Ocean County YMCA President and CEO Peter Rosario, who co-lead the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition that has helped fund the Peer Leadership Camp the past several years. Other core funders of the program include the Municipal Alliances of Toms River, Pine Beach, and Beachwood.
Hello Insight is an innovative, online platform that leverages AI and research-based tools to evaluate social and emotional learning (SEL) skills in young people across the country. It is growing the largest data set of youth outcomes in the nation, capturing data on the development of social and emotional learning from more than 60,000 young people and 560 organizations in 34 states.
Each year, Hello Insight conducts in-depth research on the impact of programs using the platform in order to identify the highest-performing, data-driven youth development organizations across the country. These programs have earned the prestigious HI Impact Award, having achieved exceptional statistical growth in SEL. They are far above the Hello Insight national baseline.
Four hundred fifty-nine programs serving more than 27,000 young people during the 2018/19 school year were included in this year’s analysis to determine award recipients. HI Impact Awardees for 2019 had programs that generated extraordinary results—in the top 4 percent of programs analyzed—and are using positive youth development practices to support young people in developing significantly more SEL capacities than their peers.
The development of SEL is now more important than ever, with growing evidence showing that SEL qualities rival academic or technical skills in their ability to predict employment and earnings, among other outcomes. While the demand for such skills has increased over the past 20 years, many employers around the world have reported that job candidates lack the soft skills needed to fill available positions. In the face of current societal economic, environmental, and social challenges, the promotion of these nonacademic skills is seen as critical. Business and political leaders are urging schools to pay more attention to equipping students with soft skills such as a positive identity, social skills, self-management, social capital, academic self-efficacy, and a sense of contribution.
The 2019 Hello Insight Awardees, representing top performers in nine different states and 17 organizations, include:
Abbott Leadership Institute, Newark, NJ
- Bronx Lacrosse, Bronx, NY
- Californians for Justice Education, San Jose, CA
- Chess in the Schools, New York, NY
- Chicago Scholars, Chicago, IL
- Christodora, New York, NY
- Empower Montana, Missoula, MT
- Girls Write Now, New York, NY
- Hands In 4 Youth, West Milford, NJ
- Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor, MI
- Oakland Park, Recreation and Youth Development, Oakland, CA
- Opening Act, New York, NY
- Queens Community House, Queens, NY
- Toms River School District, Toms River, NJ
- YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, Winston-Salem, NC
- YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
- YMCA of Greater Richmond, Richmond, VA
Visit www.helloinsight.org to learn more about Hello Insight, an online platform that helps youth-serving organizations continually evaluate and respond to young people’s social and emotional learning needs.