LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Sarah Sampson

Position: Social Emotional Learning Facilitator
School: Keller ISD
School District: Keller ISD
City, State: Keller, TX

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Sarah Sampson was nominated by a member of the community, Maria Teresa G. Pedroche.

Ms. Sampson began her education journey building an elementary school theatre program in 2016. The intention of the program was to educate kindergarten through fourth grade students in social skills, emotional intelligence, and healthy self-expression through the practices of theatre.

In her classroom teaching role, Ms. Sampson began discovering the high need for students in the modern world to become more confident communicators. Despite her work with students on her campus, Ms. Sampson noticed that as more technology entered the classroom, her children appeared less socially connected. Additionally, with the high pressures and demands of academics and extra-curricular activities her students struggled with emotional regulation and stress management.

Ms. Sampson sought education in stress management practices through the University of California at San Diego. She developed trainings to share with teachers district-wide and across the state at educational conferences. Currently, Ms. Sampson supports the implementation of social-emotional learning programming in 43 schools that serve over 43,000 students.

Social-emotional learning is defined by five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship building skills.

Ms. Sampson believes there is a need for school systems to care for both the hearts and minds of students. In her position, she leads a staff of six social-emotional learning teachers who provide direct instruction on all Keller ISD campuses. Additionally, she has partnered with Intervention Counseling in developing the “Creating a Culture of Belonging” initiative. In this program, she co-facilitates monthly community discussion on diversity and inclusion practices. She also works to secure grant funding to train her district in cultural competency. Through the use of restorative practices, she designed a set of academically aligned circles for secondary history classes which create a safe space for students to discuss social identity, race, and culture. Each summer, she also co-leads the Rise Up Summit, a social-emotional learning conference that features speakers from multiple mental health and social service organizations.

In addition to supporting her district full time, Ms. Sampson teaches children's yoga and mindfulness classes in her community. She also mentors local youth and volunteers for local educational non-profits. Specifically, she works closely with Present Moment Labs through the Dallas Yoga Center developing social-emotional learning offerings for schools nationwide.