It’s time to prepare our students for the Test of Life, and not a Life of Tests

Our Mission

The story begins with a belief that every child deserves to attend a school that is inspiring, challenging, supportive, safe and healthy, engaging, and built on mutual respect.

Every child needs competencies for success beyond the test score—skills for the tests of life, a life of college, career, contribution, and caring.

Someone has to take responsibility for schools to become cohesive and coherent places to accomplish the above goals. 

Key Themes

  • Every child is deserving
  • Every child requires specific competencies for future success
  • We need educators in school and after school who are prepared to make this happen
  • Those educators need a community of support, collaboration and practical ideas
  • This program specifically provides that community and a shared vision

From work with over 1,000 schools in the United States and internationally, we have learned how to inspire and support others in implementing social-emotional and character competence and improving school culture and climate.


SECD Teacher and Administrator Certificate Program
One way our lab is making strides towards reaching these goals is through the SECD Certificate for Teachers and Administrators.

  • These courses and this credentialing program are designed to prepare you for that responsibility, but we don’t expect you to succeed on your own.  You are entering into a community of mutual support and consultative assistance, a virtual Professional Learning Community, that will be at your side as you move forward.  Within your country and around the world, people sharing the vision and goal want to move beyond the dream and into reality.  By teaching the mind and encouraging the heart—in each other, as well as in our students—we can be successful.
  • That is our unique pledge to you—you will be prepared to implement a wide range of social-emotional and character-based programs to your students, and you will also be joining others whose collective experience, wisdom, creativity, and problem solving skills toward a shared goal will make each of us and all of us better. We are all instructors and students in the service of improving the lives and futures of all children entering schools. 

Community Action Research Approach

Our research approach also allows us to focus on student success beyond test scores. You can read more about our approach below!

  • Process, not Programs
    • Our focus is on process: we are collaborative, inclusive, strengths-focused, and place a high value on ongoing cycles of reflection, feedback, and improvement.  We believe that even evidence-based approaches must be personalized to specific contexts.
  • Before you plant, you have to prune: Synergistic Coordination Improves Efficiency and Effectiveness
    • Our orientation is to coordinate, optimize, and create synergy among the parts that already exist. This reduces staff and student frustration and helps organize the jumbled schoolhouse. 
  • Climate Counts and Must Be Assessed
    • We believe schools have an ethical obligation to systematically monitor their climate and use the data for planning, in a spirit of continuous improvement.
  • Liaison and Follow-Back Consultation Model
    • We provide a personal liaison staff member from our team to each school we work with to clarify communication and support organizational infrastructure. We provide follow-back consultation after all professional development services, workshops,  and conferences.
  • 8 Week Planning Cycles
    • We work with an 8-week planning cycle process, to maximize sustainable progress.
  • Building the Field for New and Current Professionals
    • We are committed to building the field of social-emotional and character development, and so we place particular focus on training new professionals, collaborating with professional associations to improve the skills of existing professionals, and establishing a credentialing process for SECD work with students and improving school climate.