School-Connect® was incorporated as a small business “with a big heart” in Fall 2003, but the seeds of what would become the School-Connect program took root 20 years earlier. In the late 80’s Kathy Beland was writing and piloting what would become the award-winning Second Step, A Violence Prevention Curriculum (Pre/K – Grade 8), and Julea Posey (now Julea Douglass) was beginning high school. Kathy dreamed of eventually developing a high school program that would reach the kids who either “destroyed school lockers or faded into them,” and Julea discovered her life work through a positive youth development workshop that transformed her experience of high school and goals for the future.
Fast forward to 1998 to the Character Education Partnership in Washington, DC, where Kathy and Julea worked together and discovered their mutual goals. Through discussions with national leaders in character education, positive youth development, and social and emotional learning (SEL); visits to high schools across the country as part of the National Schools of Character program; and attendance at presentations on high school reform on Capitol Hill, they became convinced that a high school program that developed students' personal and interpersonal skills was long overdue. By this time, Kathy’s own two children were in high school, providing a window into the challenges adolescents face today, and Julea was beginning graduate studies in psychology with a focus on adolescent development.
In 2003, Kathy and Julea finally had the time and resources to start School-Connect. They spent a year researching and writing School-Connect®: Optimizing the High School Experience and a year piloting the curriculum in high schools in and around Washington, DC. In the development process, they consulted with and enjoyed the support of leaders in the fields of social and emotional learning, character education, prevention, and positive psychology.
In Spring 2006, School-Connect published School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience and located to Bethesda, MD. Since then, Kathy and Julea have conducted numerous School-Connect trainings, spoken at national and regional conferences, and written and piloted new lessons. The second edition of School-Connect was released in June 2009, adding new rigor and relevance to Module 3: Building Academic Strength and Purpose.
The School-Connect program is now implemented in 50 states and three other countries. It is primarily implemented in freshman transition courses, student advisory, special education, and with at-risk students.
We remain open to the varied paths this educational adventure might take and welcome suggestions from educators, parents, and students on what is needed in our high schools to help young people succeed and flourish.