educationtechnologyinsights

Leaps: Redefining Student Success

Dennis C. Henegar, CEO and Co-Founder, LeapsDennis C. Henegar, CEO and Co-Founder
School safety, violence, and student mental health issues once again top concerns of legislators, educators and certainly students and parents. Amid much discussion around ‘hardening’ schools with better security and protection measures, there is also significant interest in “softening” schools by addressing the social and emotional needs of their students.

Educators can no longer assume that their students have the skills, attitudes and adaptive capability to be successful in college, at work, and at home with friends and family. Social and emotional development should be a natural part of growing up, but far too many of our children do not have a chance to learn those skills due to either a lack of familial guidance or even exacerbating developmental issues. And without those skills, their learning capacity will be severely limited. And combined, these factors will severely limit their opportunities in life. And so, our schools may be the last bastion of hope to teach social and emotional learning skills.

Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) is often defined as the process through which one acquires and effectively applies the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Put simply, people who are lacking in social and emotional skills will almost certainly find it difficult, if not impossible to: …find a job and keep a job … have friends and keep friends … have a home and keep a home… be a part of a learning environment and have success within a classroom.

Leaps – A 21st Century Solution for a 21st Century Challenge

Originating in mental health research, Leaps is an evidence-based solution. Its predecessor in mental health was the first psycho-social skills program to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF). As a result, Leaps is a remarkably powerful and flexible system of online resources that enable teachers, schools, and districts to teach their students the skills they need to succeed in school and in the real world.

Dennis Henegar, CEO and co-Founder points out that “every individual is unique and has their own unique story … a product of genetics, skills developed in life, and the conditions in which they were raised. And they are shaped by the relationships and events of their life – both good and bad. Our hopes and fears are influenced by the moments of joy as well as the moments of gloom and trauma. So, it is important that SEL programs differentiate based upon the needs of the students.”

Henegar also points out that Leaps is the first SEL program in education with a foundation in mental health research and real-world application.


Some teachers teach SEL skills naturally as a regular part of their classroom instruction, regardless of the subject they teach. But most teachers need effective tools and a plan to follow. Leaps provides those in an efficient and easy to use system


Its technology platform allows its end users (teachers, counselors, etc.) to access its resources from anywhere. And Leaps is equipped to address the SEL needs of any school setting: urban, suburban, or rural and is used extensively in some of the largest districts in the country.

242 Lesson Plans Stored Online by Grade & Maturity Level

Leaps is replete with242 turnkey lesson plans styled to address the needs of all students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Each lesson plan includes a clear definition of the skill, goals, objectives of each skill and a clear step by step process that is easy to follow. In addition, a summary take-home page that explains the skill taught and lays out the benefits of using the skill and the consequences of not using it, so the skill can be reinforced at home. It is also a great way to engage parents in their student’s education and growth.

Leaps addresses the broad concepts of SEL, by drilling down to as many as 109 specific skills. But it also addresses the specific requirements of positive behavior interventions and support (PBIS), response to intervention (RTI), and multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), across all the three tiers of support.

Powerful Tools – Simple to Get Started

Teachers can complete fully-vetted individual assessment tools that provide plans on both an individual and group basis help the teacher address the specific needs of their students. The assessments are easy to use, help educators identify specific lesson plans their students need, and provide the lessons in a priority order to be taught. And each user has their own account where the data and information for their student will always be. Leaps’ assessments also provide educators the opportunity for measuring the progress of their students by comparing before and after assessments. And using the Classroom Challenges tool, teachers can sign up for their account and be teaching a Leaps lesson that is relevant to the needs of their class in a matter of minutes. In addition, administrators can clearly measure fidelity of implementation by reviewing activities by their registered users.

Henegar observes that “Some teachers teach SEL skills naturally as a regular part of their classroom instruction, regardless of the subject they teach. But most teachers need effective tools and a plan to follow. Leaps provides those in a very efficient and easy to use system!”

Coming Soon

In the coming weeks, Leaps will launch what the company believes will be the first universal screening tool for social and emotional skills. SELBenchmark.com will be a free resource for all teachers and it will allow an educator to quickly produce an SEL score for their students, which will help them identify students with significant risk before the risk becomes a serious problem.

The challenge is complex, even daunting, but Leaps makes use of technology to deliver an elegantly simple and straightforward solution that any educator can use. Leaps is truly an impressive data-driven resource of which many schools and districts will want to take advantage.