Lexington-Richland School District Five is partnering with The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation to implement social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum into classrooms. The district has signed a memorandum of understanding to utilize “In Focus” books and classroom lessons that will help train teachers and grow social-emotional skills for students.
“This partnership provides an opportunity to implement a SEL curriculum that supports teachers in what they do best: building relationships with students to help them develop skills for navigating the complicated world of emotions,” said School District Five Behavior Specialist Lucy Bailey. “Written by a veteran teacher, it is a curriculum intentionally absent of bells-and-whistles, grounded instead by facilitated conversations around the humanity we all share.”
The grant will extend for three years and in the initial year involve 64 K-8th grade teachers, providing the curriculum and training to implement brief, daily, conversation-based SEL lessons. The In Focus curriculum focuses on building an understanding of how brain functioning impacts safety and security, our ability to identify and express emotions, and how we use emotions to support and enhance learning. Also integrated are daily teacher self-reflections.
Hayden Hurst created the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation in 2018 to focus on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. A standout athlete, Hurst struggled with anxiety and depression as a 19-year-old minor league baseball player. As Hurst left baseball and joined the University of South Carolina’s football team, his struggles with depression continued, leading to alcohol and drug abuse and eventually a failed suicide attempt in January 2016.
Now sober and playing professional football in the NFL, Hurst travels the country sharing his story in hopes of helping others.
“The state of South Carolina and University of South Carolina are very near to the Hurst family’s hearts,” Cathy Hurst, the foundation’s vice president, said. “The University of South Carolina gave Hayden a kick start into his new life In football and it’s a true honor to be able to give back to the young people in Lexington-Richland School District Five now. I also have to thank Lou Kennedy – CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals for her generous donation. The money she provided the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation is helping fund the In Focus Social and Emotional Training Program for School District Five.”