How do you define SEL?

We asked our staff. Here are their answers.

Genevieve Adams
Classroom Champions
4 min readMar 15, 2021


March 26th is SEL Day

So we thought we’d start celebrating but thinking about how we define social and emotional learning (SEL). As we went around our staff, we found that everyone had a different version of a definition. Each focused on something different — whether that be foundational skills, links to action and behavior, or how to become a well-rounded adult.

At the bottom of the article, check out our form to submit your own definition of SEL. We’d love to hear your response and featuring it in the post!

Quality social and emotional skills are the difference between good and great. As an elite athlete, I can tell you, we were all physically very similar. It came down to how you were able to handle delayed gratification in training and healthy habits, self control in your warm-ups, and focus your mind and body on race days. All things that kids should learn early and practice often.

Steve Mesler

Co-founder, President & CEO and Olympic gold medalist in boblsed

Leigh Parise and Steve Mesler are not only the co-founders of Classroom Champions, but they’re brother and sister! This was taken right after Steve won gold in boblsed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

I define SEL as the building blocks to a healthy lifestyle. SEL is the foundation to a holistic education that addresses life-building, social, and emotional skills all necessary to self manage and regulate as students take on the journey of growing in their academics. SEL should start at pre-K (or before!) but doesn’t stop at grade 12, even adults benefit from taking the time to learn how to reflect and adapt their approaches to work and life by practicing SEL skill building.

Anjoli Santiago

Manager of Educational Awesomeness

SEL is the explicit and implicit instruction of the foundational skills that help all people (children and adults) to become their best selves. When we build these skills, we are better able to understand and manage our own emotions and behaviors, build stronger and healthier relationships, and make decisions that are better for ourselves and others.

Catherine Wittman

Director, Education Programs

Lex Gillette is a 4xParalympic Medalist and Classroom Champions Athlete Mentor. Here he is visiting #LexsChamps in Seymour, Indiana with teacher Jenn Regruth.

These are the skills we learn that are critical to our well-being as individuals as we constantly face all the challenges and opportunities that life presents us. These are the skills that help us grow and thrive and build healthy, happy relationships that lead to better communities overall. These are the skills that enable us to think clearly, make better decisions and not be defined by our circumstances, but rather by who we are.

Katherine Peterson

Manager, Community

All things that are good! In all seriousness, SEL equips learners (not just kids) with the skill sets to improve upon their internal selves and external selves, so that they are confident, well-adjusted and well-balanced individuals who will contribute to the greater society in meaningful ways throughout life’s ups and downs.

Darri Stephens

Marketing, Communications, & Product Development

Navigating life lessons and how you apply them in every day interactions.

Tiffeny Parker

Mentor & Project Support Coordinator

Hear from Athlete Mentor and current Classroom Champions Project Support Coordinator about Mindfulness, an SEL skill Tiffeny hones in on for her mentees.

The learning part refers to developing the skills and attitudes people need to successful in relationships, developing a sense of who they are, and making decisions. Social and emotional for me takes on any part of mental, physical and social wellness.

Kate Pereira

Director, School Support

Before Kate Pereira was our Director of School Support, she was a Classroom Champions teacher!

To me, SEL is the balancing and emotional regulation of yourself and your emotions in order to be your best. SEL in the context of sport is all the lessons that sport teaches you! In this case, It is using an example of a situation encountered in sport, to relate to the learning of life, and how you can apply it so many ways within your family, school, and social group.

Emily Cook

Manager, Mentors

Before managing all of Classroom Champions Athlete Mentors, Emily Cook was a 3x Olympian and Athlete Mentor herself!

SEL is the cultivation of the very things, the intangible things that define and determine the trajectory of one’s success. By large, we all know some of these intangible things to be perseverance, empathy, regulating emotions, appropriate decision making, fostering healthy relationships and many other skills to create a well-rounded individual. It not only involves the ability to apply these necessary social and emotional skills in order to achieve goals, but the process in which these skills are acquired, and the methods used to develop them.

Monique Tabor

Outreach Coordinator

Social and emotional learning teaches kids the skills they need to understand emotions and behaviors.

Joey Duck

Communications Support



Genevieve Adams
Classroom Champions

Genevieve manages Classroom Champions Communications and Marketing.