Finding the Right Fit: How to Support High-Quality SEL for Children and Adults

For years, research has shown that social-emotional learning (SEL) increases positive social behavior and academic success and is related to children’s improved self-perceptions, grades, and school attendance rates. There is also strong evidence that explicit SEL instruction guided by an SEL program supports the development of essential skills. 

As with any program or curriculum adoption, it’s important to closely review and evaluate SEL programs to make sure they fit the unique needs of your community. 

In this on-demand webinar, Drs. Nathaniel von der Embse, Stephen Kilgus, Tricia Maas, and Sherri Widen offer guidance to help you select a SEL program that supports the unique needs, vision, and priorities of children and adults. They discuss:

  • The key characteristics of an effective SEL program
  • How to evaluate SEL program concepts and frameworks to ensure they align with your school or districts’ mission statement or strategic plan 
  • How to evaluate programs to ensure they support your community’s stated vision and priorities, resourcing and capacity, and equity advancement

About Our Presenters:


Nathaniel von der Embse, Ph.D., NCSP, Associate Professor, University of South Florida

Nathaniel P. von der Embse, Ph.D., is an associate professor of school psychology at the University of South Florida. Dr. von der Embse serves as an associate editor for the Journal of School Psychology, and his research interests include universal screening for behavioral and mental health, teacher stress and student test anxiety, and training educators in population-based mental health services. He received the 2018 Lightner Witmer Award for early-career scholarship from Division 16 of the American Psychological Association. He is one of the authors of the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS) assessment suite and is an author and behavior team member with FastBridge.


Stephen Kilgus, Ph.D., Associate Professor of School Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Kilgus is Associate Professor in the School Psychology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where his research primarily relates to social-emotional and behavioral assessment. His work has resulted in the development of evidence-based assessment procedures, as well as the validation of tools for universal screening, problem analysis, and progress monitoring. Dr. Kilgus has authored and contributed to the development of a number of assessments, including the SAEBRS screener and Direct Behavior Ratings (DBRs). He currently serves as a principal investigator on a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) regarding the validation of the Intervention Selection Profile (ISP), a suite of tools to inform the selection and modification of Tier 2 targeted interventions. Dr. Kilgus is also researching the development and evaluation of Tier 2 targeted interventions.


Tricia Maas, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Committee for Children

Dr. Maas is a Senior Research Scientist at Committee for Children where she leads research for the organization’s Second Step® SEL for Adults and Second Step® Out-of-School Time programs. Prior to her career in research, Tricia taught high school math in Charlotte, NC and San Jose, CA. Tricia holds an MA in Education Policy from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Washington.


Sherri Widen, Ph.D., Manager of Research, Committee for Children

Dr. Widen's expertise is the development of children’s concepts of emotions and social-emotional skills. In 2013, she transitioned from basic research in psychology to more applied research in education settings with a focus on increasing children’s social-emotional skills to support their academic outcomes. Sherri has been the Manager of Research at Committee for Children since 2018 where she contributes to readership and thought leadership on the Second Step social-emotional learning classroom intervention and on products to support families to engage in social-emotional learning at home. Sherri holds an MA in developmental psychology from the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Boston College.

Watch the Webinar