Expanded Learning Opportunites Lead to Growth for Students and the Adults Who Work With Them

Filed Under: Expanded Learning - Posted @ 11:01am

Students and parents from 12 Elementary Schools in Tacoma celebrated a school year worth of Expanded Learning Opportunities with an event at Edison Elementary on May 30.  The students showcases their learning through art, dance, writing, and song. Parents noticed the difference these Expanded Learning Opportunities made for their kids. 

“My son has always been into art, but now he talks about it more and how he wants to go to School of the Arts so its cool to see him be more serious about it and think about where he could go with it in the future.” – Andrea Martin, Reed Elementary Parent


“My kids didn’t like to get on stage before because they’d never really done it, so this exposed them to that and I think in the long run when they get to college or their work and they have to make a presentation they can feel more confident about doing that.”  – Shauna Gilmore, Mantiou Park Elementary Parent


“I saw my son improve his organizational skills.  In the Lego Coding class there were certain things he had to do before he could do other things so it showed him how to put order and process to tasks he’s trying to accomplish.”  – James Curry, Edison Elementary Parent


“The dance class opened him up because he was really shy and never wanted to dance, but now when we go to weddings or parties he’s more confident and he has all these new moves. – Erin Caulkins, Reed Elementary Parent


It’s not just the students who have grown and learned new skills this year.  Adults worked together in new ways to provide these Expanded Learning Opportunities for the students, offering them the opportunity for positive change as well.


Fahren Johnson, GTCF’s Senior Program Officer for Expanded Learning, described how the Social Emotional Learning competencies youth worked on helped her work of building community partnerships.

“Building partnerships is hard work, and it pulls on every sort of emotion you can have.  I started to incorporate the tools we learned in trainings into my daily work.  Tools like emotion checking and mindful moments helped me be more aware of how I’m feeling, what I’m bringing into a space, and how that impacts the way I communicate to others and how they respond to it. That’s a big change for me.” 

Fahren said she also believes that seeing adults model these skills in their interactions with each other helps students apply what they’re learning beyond the classroom.

“When we start with kindergartners learning how to deal with their emotions and watching adults around them do the same everyday, they  grow up and take that into an office space, and they know how to manage what they are feeling and communicate what help they need.”


While students experience art, dance, science, writing, and music, every Expanded Learning Opportunity is built around five core competencies of social emotional learning:



Social Awareness

Relationship Skills

Responsible Decision-Making


Additional Social Emotional Learning Resources

Core Social Emotional Learning Competencies

Social and Emotional Learning – The Wallace Foundation