K-12 Education

National Commission Spotlight: Parent Advisory Panelist Joyce Wong Kup

March 21, 2017  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Joyce Wong Kup is a member of the National Commission’s Parent Advisory Panel. The Parent Panel, which includes parents with different backgrounds and perspectives from across the country, is providing an important perspective to the Commission on how schools can complement families’ and communities’ efforts to support the whole student. We invite you to learn more about Joyce and her take on the importance of social, emotional, and academic development.

1) Tell us about your kids!

I have two kids — my son (age 9) is in 3rd Grade, and my daughter (age 7 ½) is in 2nd Grade. They both love musical theater and tennis. My son is also an avid chess player and my daughter is a dancer. They are constantly on the go and love every minute of it!

2) What does supporting the whole child mean to you?

To me, supporting the “whole child” means seeking to truly understand a child and providing the most nurturing environment for him/her to thrive intellectually, emotionally, and physically. It means parents and educators working together to ensure the child is healthy, safe and secure, supported, engaged, and challenged both at school and at home. It also means helping the child grow his/her self-confidence, self-worth, and sense of belonging. The goal is to do everything we can to give, encourage, and enable our children to develop the life skills they need to become successful grown-ups.

3) Have your children’s schools supported their social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD)? If so, how?

Yes, we are fortunate that our school has a very positive and nurturing culture that helps to support my children socially, emotionally, and academically. That culture starts with a principal who genuinely cares and sets the tone. We also have experienced teachers who really get to know each child individually and go the extra mile to help each student succeed both academically and socially. And we have engaged parents who support the teachers and one another. I think having this tight-knit, collaborative community goes a long way to foster the children’s social, emotional, and academic development. On top of that, we have a robust Character Counts program, frequent small group work in class, many opportunities for older grade students to mentor the younger ones both in class and at recess, as well as numerous school-wide community building events throughout the year.

4) How have your children benefited from SEAD? In general, what advantages do you think students have when their schools support their social, emotional, and academic growth?

I think, in the short term, all children, including my two, can and do become happier kids and more successful learners, when they have SEAD support at school. In the long term, integrating SEAD into the regular K-12 curriculum would much better prepare our high school graduates to cope with the more intense academic and social challenges in higher education and beyond.

5) What motivated you to join the Parent Advisory Panel?

I strongly believe that schools across the board need to make SEAD a priority and that is going to take a culture change. I think parents can play a critical role and should do their part to drive that change. I’d like to do what I can to help.

6) What are your hopes for the work of the Commission and Parent Advisory Panel?

I hope the work of the Commission and Parent Advisory Panel will encourage others to critically re-examine our priorities in education and recognize that schools need to focus beyond objective academics. We need to zoom in more on the whole child and the individual child. I hope the Parent Advisory Panel can help start other parents and teachers thinking and talking about the importance of SEAD, and share experiences and lessons learned from SEAD practices they see at their children’s schools.

7) Twitter bio: Who is the real Joyce Wong Kup? Tell us in 140 characters or less.

They say “the days go slow, but the years speed by” – cherishing and grateful for every moment…