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Revolutionizing Education

New Education Doctorate Focused on Social-Emotional Learning Is One of the First of Its Kind

Kindergarten teacher and doctoral student Kimberly Atkinson directs her students in a stretching exercise with belly breathing to help them reset their bodies and minds for learning.

Ed Prep Matters features the “Revolutionizing Education” column to spotlight the many ways AACTE, member institutions, and partners are pioneering leading-edge research, models, strategies and programs that focus on the three core values outlined in the current AACTE strategic plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and Impact; and Inquiry and Innovation.

This article originally appeared in The 74 and is reprinted with permission.

Seven years ago, Michael P. Alfano was sitting in his office at Southern Connecticut State University when a faculty member ran into the room in tears. That was how he first learned about the deadly school shooting 20 miles away at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people—including a student in his graduate education program, first-grade teacher Victoria Soto—were killed.

The tragedy sparked a reckoning in Alfano—and educators across the country—who questioned whether school systems had failed to support individuals who acted out so violently. For Alfano, part of preventing a shooting, bullying, or any other form of violence in schools meant addressing childhood trauma, helping students understand and manage emotions, and training educators in this work.

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