Empire Program

The Empire Program provides holistic after-school programming at each district elementary school that balances family need and student interest while striving towards improving academic achievement, developing social and emotional wellness skills and developing a sense of connectedness within the Monticello community with partnerships inclusive of the Boys and Girls Club and Cornell Cooperative Extension. 

The district also offers an early drop-off program beginning at 6:30 a.m. 

Social Emotional Wellness

The George L. Cooke Elementary School recognizes that social, emotional and behavioral issues can impact learning and academic performance.

To further support student success, the school has a Social Emotional Wellness (SEW) Facilitator to assist in identifying and meeting students’ social, emotional and physical needs.

As SEW Facilitator, Ms. Elisa Mendels plays a critical role in supporting the school in the implementation of a wellness regime that focuses on the whole child, whole school and whole community. As the SEW facilitator, Ms. Mendels conducts a push-in program in all 31 Cooke Elementary School classrooms on a five-day rotation. She teaches lessons on social emotional wellness, which address topics such as identifying feelings and appropriate expression, social skills, teamwork, empathy, compassion, anti-bullying and respect. She also incorporates yoga and mindfulness activities into her lessons as a way to teach our students ways to self-calm, focus, and become more in tune with their bodies and emotions. Each teacher participates with Ms. Mendels in her lessons.

The benefits of social emotional learning are vast. They include helping the students to find an outlet for their feelings so that they are more able to focus on learning. It also helps them to deal with social conflict and feel a stronger sense of community and belonging in our school.

Meet Elisa Mendels

Ms. Mendels has been working for the district since 1999 as a school social worker. She decided to become a SEW Facilitator so she had an impact to work with every single student at Cooke Elementary School.

She is also the co-facilitator for the school’s peer mediation program and our student council as well an Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) Facilitator and Edible Garden Coordinator.

Ms. Mendels publishes a school newsletter on a bi-monthly basis.