Strong Kids

stong kids logoFor the past two years, Ivelisse Torres-Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Education and Counseling Psychology, has been implementing the Strong Kids/Strong Start curricula in the Las Cruces Public Schools and in other parts of the state. The curricula, developed by researchers at the University of Oregon, help teachers promote resilience and increase coping skills of children and adolescents. Its designers believe that students’ social and emotional skills are essential to academic success, but are often ignored in public schools. Over 11 research studies of the program’s effectiveness suggest that it has a meaningful impact on children’s positive development.

Torres-Fernandez first introduced the program at Hermosa Heights Elementary School in Las Cruces. The school serves a population of students that is 86% Hispanic, the majority from low-income families. She has served 200 students since the start of the program, and has provided training to all school counselors in the Las Cruces Public Schools. Recently, she has been invited to train 45 teachers in the Dexter Consolidated Schools in eastern New Mexico.
The Spanish version of the Strong Kids curriculum is currently being piloted in Puerto Rico, Torres-Fernandez’s home. She will be training a group of educators in this version in late September. The educators participating in the training come from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.

After presenting the curriculum at the East Meets West Conference on Civic Education held in Beijing, China, earlier this year, Torres-Fernandez has been contacted by several professors from Beijing Normal University interested in developing a Chinese version of the program.

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