Colleen and Rob Thompson started an educational company called A Little SEL with encouragement from Jackie.

Mother and son Colleen and Rob Thompson founded A Little SEL, social emotional learning resources for teachers.

smiling woman against gray background

Colleen Thompson A Little SEL

Name of business: A Little SEL

What the business does:

A Little SEL provides daily videos that teachers can show their young students to teach social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. Children can make connections to relatable scenarios that the familiar characters experience, acting as a springboard for rich classroom conversations.

These engaging lessons are built around CASEL’s five social and emotional competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making): with puppet shows, songs, and games reinforcing the target skill of the week.

Years in business: Less than a year

What led you to start this venture?

I recently retired after 35 years of teaching in both special education and general ed. I spent my last five years as a Social-Emotional Coach with PreK, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers. During the pandemic, when students were learning online, I joined forces with my son Rob, who graduated last year in cinematic arts and we created daily videos that the teachers would show their students during their daily morning meetings.

The teachers loved the resources because:

  • Kids saw relatable scenarios played out and learned strategies to apply to their own lives.

  • The weekly target skills were exactly what their kids needed.

  • Each lesson provided common language and strategies for the students to use.

  • The puppet shows, games and songs were engaging and lead to rich discussions

  • The lessons were easy to use and reinforce throughout the day.

  • It changed behavior!

When I retired, many teachers (and students) encouraged us to start our own business and so A Little SEL was born.

What is working now?

We currently have 160 subscribers, including a district, several elementary schools, a charter school, several preschools and families.We receive very positive feedback from teachers and parents. Students even send messages to the Puppet Pals telling us what they are learning. We are in the process of marketing our website to schools and districts as they make plans to promote the social-emotional needs of their students for the next school year.

What class did you take from Jackie?  An introduction to business class.
Advice/lessons learned/takeaways:

I learned so much from taking Jackie’s class. She used the ideas from each of the students in the class and

Smiling man wearing burgandy shirt, tree in background

Rob Thompson of A Little SEL, helps his mother Colleen with video production.

our business ideas as examples to demonstrate the concepts taught each week.

Jackie made this so personal and was available to meet with me outside of class to help me with the particulars for starting my own business.

Jackie is so encouraging and just when I felt defeated she would boost me up and I always walked away inspired to keep moving forward.

I would not have even started this business if it were not for Jackie.

She has been doing this for a long time and has so many wonderful contacts. She introduced me to a lawyer to learn about the legal side of starting my business. The greatest contact of all was connecting me with our web designer, who has been extremely instrumental in getting this business up and running.

After we got our business going, I have been meeting with Jackie every two weeks to address our marketing needs. She is such a great listener, taking wonderful notes and then she gives me wise advice and reasonable action items to work on before our next meeting.

Jackie is literally helping me to make our dream come true.

What are 3 things you learned from Jackie:

I have learned to start doing something and that momentum will propel me forward to doing the next thing.

She has helped me to believe in myself and our dream and to not give up.

She taught me to keep developing my pitch, make adjustments and be able to say it in my sleep

 Colleen and Rob Thompson founded A Little SEL with help from Jackie. Read about other success stories on the blog!