Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) encourages the healthy development of self, relationships, and community.  Our K-12 program guides our students toward a greater sense of self and self-regulation to build healthy relationships, and provides opportunities for each student to use these skills to positively affect the school community.  
The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program at St. Andrew’s—the first of its kind in central Texas—was made possible through the generosity of the Abell Family and the Buena Vista Foundation more than 20 years ago. Since that time, the program has grown to include a comprehensive K-12 program under the leadership of SEL director Scott Zimmerman.


The successful St. Andrew's student is one who is intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually balanced. We have achieved increasingly positive results in nurturing this "whole child" by integrating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into our curriculum.

The St. Andrew's SEL program is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges from supportive peer-to-peer and teacher-to-student relationships.

As a key component of our SEL program, St. Andrew’s students in each division have the opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness exercises. 

We believe that in order to have an effective SEL program, we must begin teaching social and emotional skills in kindergarten and continue teaching them through high school. We strive to develop these five core SEL skills in students:

List of 5 items.

  • Self-Awareness

    We teach vocabulary to help students name their feelings and understand the reasons and circumstances that cause them. We teach mindfulness practices that help students acknowledge and understand difficult emotions.
  • Social Awareness

    We teach students how to recognize and deal with their own feelings, the feelings of another person, and how to differentiate between the two. We teach mindfulness skills that build empathy and compassion.
  • Relationship Skills

    These include mutual respect, cooperation, resistance to inappropriate social pressures, conflict negotiation, and the courage and tenacity to be honest.
  • Self-Management

    We encourage students to handle their emotions in a way that facilitates, rather than interferes with, the task at hand; to delay gratification in order to pursue long-term goals; and to persevere in the face of setbacks and frustrations. We teach mindfulness practices that strengthen impulse control while helping students manage stress and build resilience.
  • Responsible Decision Making

    Step-by-step guidance on how to make good decisions and how to be accountable for those decisions.


We view attending the social and emotional needs of our students to be among our highest educational priorities. Thus, the St. Andrew's model not only focuses on students, but also seeks to foster SEL skills among its faculty. The following list indicates the range of ways that faculty attain and maintain their SEL fluency. Faculty in each division are also offered mindfulness training, which translates into greater well-being and increased effectiveness in the classroom. 

List of 4 items.

  • Responsive Classroom

    The entire Lower School Faculty receives Level-1 training in the practices of the Responsive Classroom, a research- and evidence-based approach to education that is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. Click here to read more about the Responsive Classroom model.
  • In-Service Training

    SEL is a component of our In-Service Training, a period before the school year commences during which faculty and staff review topics such as: "How to Integrate SEL into the Classroom", "Self-Management: a Discipline System", and "How to Communicate Most Productively with Parents."
  • SEL Teams

    SEL Teams in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools are designed to address student and teacher concerns in the areas of social and emotional growth and development. These teams meet on a weekly basis and comprise both faculty and administrators.
  • Faculty Commitment to SEL

    The ability to attend to the social and emotional needs of students is an important consideration when hiring new teachers and staff.

SEL News

List of 5 news stories.

  • Upper School Bridge Advisers visit 31st Street Campus

    The Bridge Advisers, part of the SEL program, is a peer mentoring group made up of junior and senior SAS students, who build connections with their younger peers throughout the school year. On Wednesday, Oct. 23 they made their second visit of the year to the 31st Street Campus. 
    Read More
  • Mindfulness Program Featured in “Diversity IS” Magazine

    St. Andrew’s Mindfulness program, led by director Adam Ortman, was featured in this month’s Diversity IS magazine - the diversity and inclusion magazine for independent schools. The article “Faculty and Administrators Are the Front Line to Providing Mental Health Services” discusses how mindfulness can combat the negative effects of technology habits: “As young people turn increasingly to technology to avoid feelings of loneliness, boredom, and anxiety, the harder it is to learn to cope with unhealthy aspects of their lives,” Adam says, adding, "One of the most natural things we do is breathe and relax in our bodies. If we can offer these sorts of tools to young people, I think that it makes them feel more empowered to take care of themselves and work with their own experiences.”
    Read More
  • Download The Highlander Magazine

    Our mid-year, digital magazine The Highlander is here. (Download a PDF version here).Our students have been growing every day in their classrooms, on courts, fields, and stages, and in the greater Austin community. Be sure you click on our hyperlinked content to find extra info and photos. Our magazines are always available to view (including archived issues) on our Publications page.
    Read More
  • Join Us for "Parenting in Digital Age"

    Join us on Monday, December 3, at 6:30 pm in the Middle School for a conversation and book study about parenting kids in the digital age. The discussion will center around the new book written by Dr. Mike Brooks and Dr. Jon Lasser, called "Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World." We encourage you to read the book, but it's not required to attend. We'd love to have as many contributors to this important discussion as possible. If you think you can make it, please RSVP using this form.

    St. Andrew's Annie Sykes (Middle School Student Services Coordinator) and Scott Zimmerman (Director of Social Emotional Learning) will host the discussion. Parents will be given the opportunity to ask questions, talk in small groups, and encourage one another with stories of success. 

    Unable to attend on December 3? Mark your calendar for TuesdayFebruary 5, 2019, when Dr. Brooks will be presenting to all St. Andrew's families at 8:00 am in Rollins Library. Our hope is that by providing these two information sessions, we will support and empower you as parents in raising healthy children in a digital world.
    Read More
  • 5th Graders Learn Skills to Handle Self-Esteem, Peers

    As part of St. Andrew’s ongoing K-12 Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum, the fifth-graders were split into boys and girls groups this month to discuss different topics with SEL Director Scott Zimmerman and LS/MS Counselor Brearley Khan.
    Read More

SEL in the Spotlight

Our SEL program caught the attention of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which featured St. Andrew’s on its Inspiration Lab website in April 2018.

List of 2 items.

  • Lower & Middle School

    1112 West 31st St.
    Austin, TX 78705
    Lower (512) 299-9800
    Middle (512) 299-9850
  • Upper School

    5901 Southwest Pkwy.
    Austin, TX 78735
    (512) 299-9700

Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.