Ruby Payne spoke to 300 educators in Oxford, Mississippi, and her message was clear: School safety stems from emotional safety.

Many schools in the area are instituting more physical security like cameras and school resource officers in the wake of school shootings across the country. Along with those measures have come social emotional learning (SEL) programs as well. Sometimes these programs miss the mark, however, especially when it comes to preparing to staff to deal with students’ emotional well-being and emotional distress.

According to Payne, “A lot of schools are implementing SEL programs but they are not giving staff the knowledge about what is happening with students emotionally, so what I am trying to give staff members is a vocabulary to understand the development of emotional responses and give them tools for it.”

Payne was well-received, and her message was too. Morgan Abraham, principal of Sudduth Elementary School in Starkville, stressed that these issues often start when children are very young.

Abraham said, “Especially in the younger grades and as they get older, you can’t easily teach a child that is having emotional issues, so you want to help them manage their emotions and behavior so they can be better acclimated to deal with not only school issues but also life challenges.”

Read the full article in the Tupelo Daily Journal.