SUNNYSIDE, OR - The Sunnyside School District began holding virtual sessions focused on social and emotional intelligence to help their students succeed. The first session took place Jan. 12. 

There will be six sessions in total centered around different topics. The first session was about empathy. The others will be about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. 

Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Chris Anderson said that the idea to focus on social and emotional intelligence came about when they started looking at the life part of their "career, college, and life ready motto."

"We took a look at the life part and how we were going to define that and put some common language around that, that's when we really started looking at social and emotional intelligence," Anderson said. 

The Sunnyside school district hopes that ultimately these sessions help students understand and manage their emotions. Anderson said it is important to have those skills even outside a classroom setting.

"These are things that are aren't just important or valuable in a k-12 setting, these are things that are important for everyone in our lives," Anderson said. 

Director of Communications Jessica Morgan said she also hopes these sessions well help staff, students and parents all be on the same page.

"One of our main goals is a common language so everyone is familiar with those key terms that we are using as our topics and the definition and understanding the importance of it," Morgan said. "Then our schools and our families can begin having those conversations on their own and expanding on it."

The district hopes to continue teaching social and emotional intelligence even when students have returned to in-person learning. 

The next session will take place on Feb. 2 and it will be focused on self-awareness.