CRTWC - Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child

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CRTWC - Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child: Activating Empathy in the Next Generation of Teachers and Students

San Jose and surrounding areasSan Jose
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

CRTWC changes classroom practice, students’ educational experience and achievement by developing the Social-Emotional Learning skills of both teachers and students - skills foundational to empathetic action. We create systemic change by shifting how teachers are prepared before entering the field.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if new teachers were prepared to build quality relationships, safe environments for learning, and nest social-emotional learning skills (SEL) into the on-going curriculum, leading to more empathetic responses, higher teacher retention, and students r
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Research confirms that university programs are not equipping beginning teachers with the SEL skills foundational to empathetic teacher and student behavior and academic excellence. Schools must address new standards, high suspension rates, poor teacher retention, dropouts and bullying, while effectively supporting at-risk students. We must develop the SEL skills of both teachers and students to successfully address these challenges.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To build teacher and student empathetic behaviors, CRTWC systematically incorporates SEL skills into classrooms and schools, rather than providing an add-on program. The first step is to integrate SEL skill development into teacher preparation, equipping new teachers with the knowledge base, habits of mind, and concrete strategies to be effective. SEL skill development enables teachers to provide an empathetic school environment where all can take risks, make mistakes, and support one another in academic and social development. We have created a model to transform teacher preparation, developing the SEL skills of pre-service teachers, as well as the principals, teachers, students, and parents at the schools where they learn to teach.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

By developing SEL skills in teachers, they are better able to model empathetic behavior, in turn empowering their students with these vital skills. As one teacher candidate shared, “[I learned] that undesirable behaviors have a purpose and can be an opportunity. When I take time to get to know my students not only as learners but also as individuals, I have more empathy for them and then I can look beyond their behaviors and see them as young people with strengths and needs, wanting to be successful learners and to belong socially in the classroom. I can make a difference by changing how I respond to them and monitoring my attitude towards them. [I learned] how to relate to my students better and to be a more impactful future teacher.”

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

CRTWC has 1) redesigned teacher preparation at SJSU to address the Social-Emotional Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (SEDTL), so far empowering 264 Teacher Candidates (graduating ~125 candidates annually who impact ~7500 students ); 2) created professional development materials and trainings (videos, teaching vignettes, etc.) to support development of SEL skills by teachers, students, and administrators in schools, ( ~192 teachers, principals and district administrators to date and ~6,000 students regionally); and 3) presented our SEDTL model at conferences (regional-national) to ~800 participants. In the coming year, our model will be adopted by CSU East Bay and then other CSU campuses (23 producing 70% of the teaching force in California), as well as other teacher training institutions around the country. We have begun a 3-year evaluation effort with WestEd to validate our model.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

CRTWC is creating a model to assist programs across the nation in integrating the Social-Emotional Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (SEDTL) into teacher training. Concurrently, we are developing a replicable model for districts to fully integrate SEDTL skills into the school day. We speak at state and national conferences; maintain a website; host an annual symposium; publish articles; develop partnerships; network with education leaders and legislators; and develop materials and evaluation tools for use by teacher training programs and classroom teachers/administrators.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

CRTWC executes diversified strategies for sustainability: long-term multi-year funding (secured two 3-year grants in 2014); fee-for-service model for professional development to school districts and other education-focused organizations (3 contracts for 2014-15); sponsored program events; and leveraging Advisory Board connections for resource development. CRTWC will develop a business plan with stakeholder input to sustain and grow our work.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many organizations that provide a program to address empathy-related issues. We differ by focusing on developing both students’ and teachers’ SEL skills; nesting SEDTL within the on-going curriculum; focusing on those entering the profession rather than re-training them once they are in the field; and including all the players - teachers, administrators, teacher candidates, families, and teacher educators. Also, we support districts seeking to systemically address SEDTL rather than buy an add-on program; and ultimately intend to influence state teacher credential standards.

Founding Story

Dr. Markowitz was part of a professional learning community in which the leader created an unsafe environment by ignoring the social-emotional aspects of working with people. This caused her to disengage completely, having a profound effect on her as an educator. She realized that if she could be debilitated as a tenured professor by lack of attention to the social-emotional aspects of learning, teacher candidates were in a very vulnerable position as both learners and teachers, and their future students even more so. This sparked her exploration of how to attend to SEDTL as an educator and the realization that no one was working to embed this lens in teacher training programs, something that had the potential to create systemic change.


CRTWC is comprised of staff members Dr. Nancy Markowitz, Founder/Director, and Wendy Thowdis, Program Coordinator, as well as SJSU education faculty members Patty Swanson, Jolynn Asato, and Colette Rabin. In addition, CRTWC has administrative, fundraising and organizational development support from consultants. CRTWC will expand the hours of current team members, as well as add new positions as the Collaborative grows, including a web manager.
About You
Collaborative for Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Collaborative for Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC)

How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

United States, CA, San Jose

Country where this project is creating social impact

United States, CA, San Jose and surrounding areas

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Customers.

Supplemental Information
On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):

San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara.

How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

Teachers have a profound opportunity to educate all children to become highly competent leaders in their communities. Uniquely beginning during initial teacher training, CRTWC develops teachers who see social-emotional skills as central to their own skill set and to the skill set of their students. SEL competencies such as self-regulation, self-awareness, social awareness and ethical decision-making are foundational to empathetic action. The power of a teacher’s belief in students’ abilities, genuine caring and ability to meaningful nest SEL in the ongoing curriculum are truly transformational. How students are treated translates into how students treat themselves and others, increasing their capacity to be empathetic citizens.


Technological support for online professional learning communities


Sharing tools and strategies for professional development related to SEDTL lens

Tell us about your partnerships

CRTWC collaborates with a variety of institutions, including Knowledge-Building Partners (New Teacher Center, Acknowledge Alliance, Developmental Studies Center); Implementation Partners (Santa Clara County Office of Education, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Sunnyvale School District, Silicon Valley Education Foundation); & Partners for Scaling the Model (CASEL, California Council on Teacher Education, Massachusetts SEL TEd Consortium).


CRTWC has achieved significant milestones, while inspiring considerable interest in our work. Our challenges are to develop and sustain collaborations with other teacher training programs and school districts that lead to observable change, and to garner additional financial resources. We need to build organizational capacity, create more professional development materials, expand use of our website, and execute a longitudinal evaluation that builds credibility and improves our work. CRTWC will also develop a business plan to address sustainability and organizational development issues.

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

encouraging philanthropy, creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, building leadership skills, immersion, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

3-5, 6-12, 13-17, 18-35, 36-64, 65+.