/ April 13, 2021

Social Emotional Learning: Style and grace in a moment of chaos

Marge Keiser, an Early Childhood Social Worker at the Department of Education, goes out of her way to make a personal connection with everyone she meets in the course of her work. When the pandemic hit, it was no surprise that Ms. Keiser made it her priority to stay connected with the children and families she serves.

Before becoming a social worker, Ms. Keiser worked as a Parent Coordinator in the same Northern Brooklyn neighborhood she now serves. It’s also the same neighborhood where she raised her three children. She knows the community well, and she has deep compassion for the families who have struggled with school closures during the pandemic. Ms. Keiser’s commitment led her to meet families where they were during this difficult time by offering support at flexible hours and providing multiple ways for families to get in touch with her.

“She wanted caregivers to know that she was there for the schools, but she was also there for them,” said Laura Colevecchi, Mental Health and Wellness Administrator, Division of Early Childhood, Brooklyn North.Marge understands the needs of young children and she understands the challenges parents and caregivers may have as well.”

Ms. Keiser takes a whole-family approach to her work, helping both caregivers and children understand how children handle stress, and helping parents and caregivers accept that it was okay for them to be anxious, too.

 “She has a sage-like quality about her, a way of making folks feel comfortable,” said Ms. Colevecchio. “She had style and grace during a moment of chaos and unknowns.”

From Ms. Keiser:
“I am drawn to this work by the possibilities of empowering people and programs to grow personally and professionally, and the opportunity to do it every day.”

Community mental health program: Social Emotional Learning

Social, emotional, and behavioral regulation skills are foundational for learning and well-being. Through a partnership between ThriveNYC and the Department of Education, Pre-K and 3-K programs across New York City provide social-emotional learning support to students, families, program leaders and teaching teams. Over 3,000 schoolteachers or program staff participated in at least one professional learning through this program since the program launched in 2016. And, an additional 3,000 parents and caregivers have attended family workshops to learn social emotional development practices since 2016. Learn more about the program and its impact here.