Middle School students at celebration of learning

"My job is to build them as people… I don’t see social and academic skills separately at all. I don’t think first about designing a lesson and then think next about how to develop students’ social-emotional skills. It’s all one."

— Sixth grade teacher

Read this case study by the Aspen Institute and this article in The Hechinger Report to learn more about how Capital City integrates social and emotional learning into our curriculum to prepare students for life.

At Capital City, we believe the social curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum and in many ways makes the academic curriculum possible.  Through our EL Education model, the two are deeply connected and intertwined.  Students learn and deepen their social skills while engaged in collaborative learning projects.

Research shows that students who have healthy and positive relationships with others and strong self-esteem are more engaged and successful in school. We use the Responsive Classroom Model® and its Middle/High School counterpart, Developmental Designs, which provide an array of strategies designed to foster safe and positive learning communities where students are connected, responsible and engaged in learning. 


Key Components of Our Social Curriculum include:

Lower School teacher and student

Ensuring every child is known by their teachers and peers.

It is important for children of all ages to be part of a community. In our elementary classrooms, each day starts with a morning meeting where students greet one another, share and engage in community building activities. At the middle and high school level, students are part of advisories of 10-12 students that meet daily with an advisor and engage in a process for checking-in, sharing and discussing critical issues. Other school structures like All School Meeting, school-wide service time and buddy program help to not only ensure students know their classmates, but that students develop connections and friendships across grades.

Kindness in the Lower School. Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Teaching students important social skills.

We recognize that skills such as conflict resolution or working successfully in a group are critical for success in school and in life. We intentionally model and practice these social skills with particular focus during the first six weeks of school. We also engage students throughout the year in problem solving, discussing and role-playing challenging situations.

Fiesta Latina flag parade

Providing opportunities for celebrations.

Celebrations and events are an important aspect of being part of a community. We have an All School Meeting to allow students to share with the larger community and to celebrate successes. We have developed community traditions at each campus, many initiated by students themselves like our annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day, Games Day and Spirit Days.

4th grade colonial camping trip

Supporting students in taking risks and trying new things.

The best learning happens when students are challenged and willing to move outside of their comfort zone. We provide a supportive environment for students to take risks and we build a culture where that is expected. We have an adventure program where students engage in activities such as rock climbing, hiking, ice skating, and swimming.

4th grade leader in class. Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Encouraging all students to be leaders.

We believe in the leadership potential of all students and work to foster leadership at all grade levels. Whether taking responsibility for a job in a Kindergarten classroom, planning an All School Meeting or starting and leading an extracurricular activity for high school peers, student leadership is encouraged, supported and celebrated.

"I love being a teacher at Capital City because we are not timid about the social justice issues of our time. We grapple with them directly, critically, and creatively to empower our students to use their talents to build a more equitable and just society. Engaging students in this mission and sending them out into the world, prepared with the skills to change it, is why I am committed to Capital City."

— Senior Expedition Teacher

5th grade with Rep. John Lewis

Top photo of Capital City students courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action