New School Year Marks Expansion of Sanford Harmony Program in One of the Country’s Largest School Districts

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L.A. Unified is supporting the social emotional learning development of the District’s earliest school learners

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One of the country’s largest school districts, Los Angeles Unified School District, is expanding a research-based social emotional learning program, Sanford Harmony, this 2017-2018 school year following its initial introduction to the District’s early childhood centers. The Sanford Harmony program, which is offered through the private, nonprofit National University and National University System, promotes positive peer interactions and relationships among students through easily-integrated lesson plans and activities that emphasize communication, empathy, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving skills.

The social emotional learning program, based on the vision of entrepreneur and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, is in various stages of integration in schools around the country, representing more than half a million students. In L.A. Unified, the program started to be introduced among PreK students last school year with plans to expand to grades K-5 over the next few years.

“We are pleased to be collaborating in our efforts to provide our teachers and students with access to this research-based Social Emotional Learning program,” said Dr. Frances Gipson, Chief Academic Officer at L.A. Unified.

The rollout in L.A. Unified aligns with efforts locally and statewide to integrate social emotional learning approaches to support student development and achievement. Nationally, the federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act, also places a greater emphasis on academic aligned concepts that address "whole child" issues.

“We are very excited to partner with L.A. Unified to provide teachers with access to the Sanford Harmony program as part of our nationwide effort to support student development and achievement,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System, which includes National University. “The expanded adoption of Sanford Harmony at L.A. Unified represents a very significant milestone, and we are thrilled to be able to share this program, which is based on the vision and dedication of Mr. Denny Sanford.”

The Sanford Harmony program was developed and refined over more than five years by university researchers to reinforce positive peer interactions among children through a series of easy-to-integrate lesson plans that can take as little as 15 minutes a day. Initial research indicates improved academic performance, increased empathy and a more positive attitude towards school, as well as reductions in stereotyping and classroom aggression.

Home to one largest schools of education in the country – the Sanford College of Education at National University – , the National University System is leading the nationwide dissemination of the program in coordination with school districts, individual schools as well as other university members of the Sanford Education Collaborative. The Sanford Harmony program has been embraced for use by private and public schools as well as after-school programs such as LA’s BEST. Sanford Harmony at National University – which includes professional development training, educational resources and other materials to support program implementation – is being provided at no charge to participating schools and organizations through a combination of sources, including donations from Mr. Sanford and National University.

About the Los Angeles Unified School District
The Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A. Unified) is the second largest school district in the United States with more than 640,000 students in Los Angeles and neighboring communities. Encompassing 710 square miles, the L.A. Unified is geographically divided into five education centers, oversees 1,190 schools and centers, and employs almost 60,000 people. The culturally diverse district, in which 90 languages are spoken, is governed by the seven-member Los Angeles Board of Education and manages an annual budget of nearly $7.5 billion.    

About National University and the National University System
Founded in 1971, National University is one of the largest private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in California. With more than 150,000 alumni, National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Comprised of four schools and two colleges that offer more than 100 degrees, National University recommends more teachers for credentials than any other university in California. National University is the flagship institution of the National University System, a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions serving K-12 students and higher education, which includes City University of Seattle, and John F. Kennedy University. The National University System also includes the Sanford Education Programs, which serve the PreK-12 education and nonprofit sectors nationally through Sanford Harmony, Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. National University and the National University System are headquartered in La Jolla, California.

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Anna Cearley
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