Jun 22, 2016
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A program that teaches emotional intelligence and empathy to students at Coronado School in Richmond was highlighted in a Wall Street Journal video story as a potential way to prevent mass shootings.

To view the report, go here.

“As mass shootings capture the national spotlight with more frequency, some experts are pushing for a radical solution: teaching empathy in schools,” the newspaper said. “An elementary school in Richmond, Calif., is using one program to teach social emotional learning to its students.”

That program is called Toolbox, which has been used for five years at Coronado Elementary at 2100 Maine Ave. in Richmond. Its founder Mark Collin says mass shooters were likely traumatized, isolated and bullied as kids, leading them to drastic responses.

Here’s a video introducing the Toolbox program:

While the Washington Post notes that critics of such programs question their effectiveness, citing a lack of comprehensive studies, Coronado Elementary staff members support Toolbox as an effective learning tool.

“Initially I was skeptical about using Toolbox,” teacher Sharon Dennis said. “But then it helped the kids. It helped them speak for themselves. It helped them function in ways I didn’t think they would.”

Principal Linda Cohen says she “can’t say enough how important” empathy is, saying she still remembers to this day mean things other kids said about her when she was a child. When kids understand how hurtful such insults feel and their lasting effect, they are less likely to insult others, Cohen said.

Coronado student Malakhi DeMoss said he uses multiple techniques from Toolbox to respond to various adverse situations at school. For one, he uses the garbage can tool when people say something mean to him, which means he throws it out, lets it go.

“And breathing tool, if I’m mad, just take a couple of breaths, calm down and use my words,” DeMoss said.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.