Sandy Spring Friends School



Lower School Social and Emotional Learning

At Sandy Spring Friends School, we approach learning holistically. Here, we believe that social and emotional learning (SEL) is just as important as academic learning—and that academic success is intertwined with social and emotional competencies, especially for our youngest learners.

Because of this, each of our teachers have been extensively trained in evidenced-based SEL strategies and thoughtfully deploy them within SSFS’ inquiry-based learning environment. How exactly do we help our preschool and elementary-aged students toward some of the most integral parts of education and human development?


The Lower School’s curriculum features a standalone weekly SEL class called SHINE, which is taught by our Lower School Counselor and Assistant Head of Lower School. The SHINE curriculum aims to improve each student’s understanding and practice of RECESS—and not the kind that involves free play and social connection on our spacious playground…although Lower Schoolers enjoy that, too!

  • R esponsibility

  • E motional safety

  • C ollaboration/cooperation

  • E mpathy

  • S elf-awareness

  • S elf regulation

As a part of learning RECESS skills, SHINE helps students

  • Develop and maintain a consistent mindfulness practice, including mindful pausing, speech and language, listening, presence, and movement

  • Explore issues of belonging, justice, identity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially in processing complex historical and current events

  • Embrace a culture of self reflection and self improvement that is kind, thoughtful, and non-judgemental

  • Involve their families in their learning, as the School embraces them as active partners in their child’s moral, social, and emotional development

Shining a Light on the SHINE Teaching Team

Joel Gunzburg

Joel Gunzburg
Assistant Lower School Head
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Teryn Gilmore

Teryn Gilmore
Lower School Counselor
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Shining a Light on the 4 Pillars of SHINE

Shining a Light on the SHINE Curriculum

The Quaker SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Equality/Equity, and Stewardship) provide the perfect starting point for teaching SEL to our youngest learners. You might say the SPICES are the backdrop for each child developing RECESS!

List of monthly themes for SHINE curriculum

Explore Our Lower School