The credential in Instruction in Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development is one of two credentials offered by the Academy for SEL in Schools., a collaboration of Rutgers University and the College of Saint Elizabeth.  Below, please find information on the Co-Directors of the Academy and the credentialing programs, and the primary instructors who will be teaching courses for the Instruction Credential.


Co-Director, Academy for SEL; Professor of Psychology, Rutgers; Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab; Director, Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Maurice Elias is Professor, Psychology Department, Rutgers University, Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, and Academic Director of The Collaborative, Rutgers’ Center for Community-Based Research and Service. He is Past President of the Society for Community Research and Action/Division of Community Psychology (27) of APA and has received the SCRA Distinguished Contribution to Practice and Ethnic Minority Mentoring Awards, as well as APA’s National Psychological Consultants to Management Award, the Joseph E. Zins Memorial Senior Scholar Award for Social-Emotional Learning from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the John P. McGovern Medal from the American School Health Association, and the Sanford McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.

Dr. Elias lectures nationally and internationally to educators and parents about students’ emotional intelligence, school success, and social-emotional and character development. A recent recipient of the Sanford McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education, among Dr. Elias’ numerous books are ASCD’s Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators, the Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving curricula for grades k-8, the new e-book, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (via Kindle and Nook) and a book for young children: Talking Treasure: Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children (, 2012). Maurice writes a blog for the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia Website.



Co-Director, Academy for SEL; Dean of Human and Social Development, College of Saint Elizabeth; Co-Project Leader of the Academy for Social Emotional Learning in Schools; Director, CSE Center for Human and Social Development; Co-Director of the School Culture and Climate Initiative, a partnership of the CSE Center and the Youth Empowerment Alliance of the United Way of Northern New Jersey

Patricia Heindel, Ph.D., co-project leader with Maurice Elias, Ph.D. of the Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools, is a professor of psychology and Dean of Human and Social Development at the College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE). She is the Director of the CSE Center for Human and Social Development and the Center’s School Culture and Climate Assessment Lab. She is co-director of the School Culture and Climate Initiative delivered in partnership between the Center for Human and Social Development and the Youth Empowerment Alliance of the United Way of Northern New Jersey.

The Initiative (modeled on the Developing Safe and Civil School Project led by Maurice Elias) is currently partnering with over 50 schools in 12 districts in Northern New Jersey to assess and improve their cultures and climates. She served as Psychology Program Chair at CSE for 21 years before becoming Dean. In 2007, Dr. Heindel was recognized as Teacher of the Year by the New Jersey Psychological Association. She has served as senior editor of the online Journal of the Behavioral and Social Sciences and is the editor of the CLEP test preparation manual in Developmental Psychology.



Victoria Poedubicky Ed.S is a retired health educator and school counselor with 33 years experience from the Highland Park Public Schools. 20 of those years were dedicated to initiating, implementing and assessing the Social Decision Making/Problem Solving program through the health program, guidance counseling services, and school and district-wide initiatives as well as integration into the curriculum. She was instrumental in initiating, facilitating and supervising a Social Decision Making Lab, which is a teaching component (intervention) assisting students in learning and strengthening social-emotional skills in a one-one or small group setting. Victoria has published several articles and most recently co-authored Social-Emotional Learning Lab: A Comprehensive SEL REsource Kit published by Research Press.  She has also provided workshops to parents and staff, taught a social-emotional learning course at Rutgers University, has served as a mentor to other teachers and counselors, and is a co-developer, program coordinator and instructor for the Online Direct Instruction in Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development for Teachers and Support Staff at Rutgers University.  



Erin Bruno, MA, has been working in the field of Social and Emotional Learning, Conflict Resolution, and Anger Management for more than 20 years. 16 of those years have been spent working as the Lead Trainer for Rutgers University, University Behavioral Health Care’s Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program (SDM/PS). Erin has presented and worked with many schools across the United States and assisted in the writing and publishing of the Social Decision Making and Problem Solving Curriculum. Erin has worked extensively with administrators, teachers, mental health professionals, parents and students in the field of Social and Emotional Learning and continues to be inspired by the dedicated people she has had the privilege to work with.





Patrick Fennell is the Founder of Empowerment Solutions, LLC (February 2004) and the non-profit corporation Empowerment Institute, Inc (June 2006).  As a consultant, coach and facilitator, Patrick’s mission is to assist schools to develop and sustain an inclusive and engaging culture and climate where stakeholders work collaboratively so that ALL students thrive.  Patrick attains his mission and sustainable results through his ABCD principle – Attitude, Awareness and Accountability yield Better Choices, which lead to your Destiny.  Patrick has provided interactive workshops, training and coaching for students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and the community at-large.  His passion and work interests focus on the connection and implementation of Social Emotional Learning, Culture and Climate, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, Mentoring and Emotional Intelligence.  As a result, he created an intergenerational mentoring program called “I CAN” which received a National Promising Practice Award from Character Education Partnership (CEP) in 2014.   Patrick also serves as a consultant to schools/districts with the School Culture and Climate Initiative at Saint Elizabeth University and provides direct instruction of the Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving curriculum with the University Behavioral Health Center at Rutgers University.



Dr. Lauren Fullmer has been working in the field of public education for nearly ten years. She has taught students in grades 1-5 in a school in northern New Jersey and most recently is a fifth grade teacher. In addition, she has three years of experience in higher education, teaching courses at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, as well as at the College of St. Elizabeth. Her research interests include social and emotional learning, as well as how to minimize the risk factors associated with divorce through the implementation of preventive programs for children.




Lauren Hyman Kaplan, M.A, is a consultant, speaker, certified emotional intelligence coach and counselor in the field of social and emotional learning, emotional intelligence and bullying prevention. She is a former teacher and school counselor with over 18 years of experience training and providing consulting to schools around the United States and the world. She conducts presentations, workshops and provides on-going consulting to schools and  parenting  organizations and teaches the New York State mandated Dignity for All Students and SAVE violence prevention workshops for educators . She was a Regional Implementation Director for the Developing Safe and Civil Schools Project at Rutgers University, funded by the NJ Department of Education. She is a certified consultant to the US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, a Grant Reviewer for the US Department of Education and a certified Star Factor Emotional Intelligence Coach. Lauren is also the New York Network Leader for Six Seconds. She is an instructor at Bank Street College of Education and the co-author of the New York State "Interpersonal Violence Prevention Resource Guide for Parents and Educators." (New York State Department of Education, 2002). 



A certified teacher and guidance counselor with 30 years of classroom experience, Dr. MacLennan has been on the faculty of the Program in Counseling Psychology at the College of Saint Elizabeth since 2003. She was also a group counselor for victims of domestic violence at Morris County’s Jersey Battered Women’s Service before increasing her time as the college’s Social/Emotional Character Development Specialist. Dr. MacLennan is a member of the New Jersey Culture and Climate Coalition and is part of the professional development team of the Youth Empowerment Alliance at United Way of Northern New Jersey. Her workshop areas of expertise are helping teachers use emotional intelligence skills for student academic achievement and healthy emotional and social development, bully/victim prevention and girls’ relational bullying. Other audiences include guidance counselors and those in positions of educational leadership.



Tracey Maiden, MA, is a distinguished Social-Emotional, Health, and Wellness Specialist based in New Jersey. She holds a Master of Education Degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical/Child Psychology, both earned with distinction from DePaul University. Her commitment to enhancing educational environments led her to complete the Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools, where she received a Certificate in School Leadership for Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development. As part of this program, Tracey initiated, implemented, and seamlessly integrated a Social-Emotional Learning Lab within her school district's restorative practices and responsive classroom approach. Today, she continues to spearhead the Social-Emotional Learning Lab as a vital intervention program aimed at boosting academic performance through Social-Emotional Learning and Character Education. Tracey's unwavering dedication lies in supporting school administrators as they embrace evidence-based behavioral interventions, weaving them into a cohesive continuum that elevates academic achievement and social well-being for all students.




Patricia Meacham, MBA is an instructor for The Academy for SEL in School. She is an alumnus of the SECD for Direct Instruction Accelerated Program. She is an adjunct faculty member of Rutgers University, Department of Psychology, the University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Department of Learning and Teaching, and the USD Division of Professional and Continuing Education. Patricia has spent over a decade supporting a wide variety of schools and museum education programs for non-profits. Her work interests are social-emotional learning, character development, and the promotion of school-family partnerships for a positive school climate. Patricia has been part of several educational research teams that develop, evaluate, and facilitate social-emotional learning and character development courses, conferences, and programs. She works with developing educators, school and district teachers and leaders, as a consultant, presenter, and trainer. Patricia previously worked in the classroom as amiddle school and high school mathematics teacher and guest teacher for K-8 students with cognitive and physical learning challenges.



A long-time teacher and school leader, Judy has collaborated with Penn State University Prevention Research Center research teams implementing and evaluating implementation of evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs/strategies. As a CASEL
(Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) consultant over the last 8 years, Judy provided long-term consultation to large urban districts for the promotion of district-wide SEL. She has worked in Sacramento, Austin, Cleveland, and El Paso. Prior to working with CASEL, Judy led the district-wide implementation of SEL in Harrisburg School District, PA, as the Director of SEL, one of the first in that role in the country. Judy has authored parts of several evidence-based SEL programming (Peace First, Lions Quest) and has written about and facilitated professional learning for the promotion of educators’ social and emotional competence.