Our Story

What students need in order to thrive

Co-founders, Liz Warner and Patricia Heindel, Ph.D., well-respected thought leaders in the field of social-emotional learning and school climate, began by asking a seemingly simple question, “What do students need in order to thrive?” That initial inquiry coupled with best practices and research from the fields of school climate, social-emotional learning and character development, led to the conclusion that schools need to be inspiring, challenging, and respectful places where all individuals feel safe and supported. The School Culture and Climate Initiative (Initiative) was created in order to help districts improve school culture and climate while also promoting the social-emotional well-being of  staff and students in grades pre-K to 12.  

Many schools already have a myriad of programs and curricula in place to support students but have not successfully infused social-emotional learning school-wide and into the classroom. In addition there can be a lack of coordination among existing programs. The Initiative rose to the challenge and began building a comprehensive support system to help cultivate thriving school communities. Schools working with the Initiative experienced success in transforming their learning environments and it didn’t take long for this energy and excitement to become contagious. The Initiative grew as did their services and their reach within the United States. Today, the Initiative is recognized nationally as a model that brings about sustainable change in schools and positively impacts the lives of students and their families.

The Initiative is based at Saint Elizabeth University’s Center for Human and Social Development. The Center for Human and Social Development (Center) is a resource for individuals, families, schools, and other organizations in need of support in order to thrive and achieve their goals. The current focus of the Center is promoting the social emotional learning (SEL) of children and the development of positive and respectful school cultures and climates in K-12 schools. Click here to learn more about the Center for Human and Social Development.

News And Awards

Sustainability Heroes

School Culture and Climate Initiative co-founders, Patricia C. Heindel and Liz Warner, are nationally recognized for their exemplary achievements in the field of social-emotional learning and school climate.

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Managing stress for students

How North Jersey schools are making a difference (North Jersey Record, Sept. 23, 2019)

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Two organizations recognized for improved school culture and climate

(Morristown News, Oct. 2017, page 10)

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Student success built on positive school climate

(New Jersey Education Association Review, November 2016, page 21)

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