Teachers and leaders prioritized teaching social-emotional skills to foster student engagement. In raising expectations for student learning, teachers and leaders at the Bates recognized the need to increase students’ sense of ownership in their own learning. They placed a premium on student engagement when making the decision to implement the Social Thinking® curriculum that focused on direct instruction of social-emotional skills, like social awareness, self-awareness, and self-management. A focus on these skills reinforced the commonly-held values of inclusion and equity, and ensured that the Bates would be a safe place for all students to learn. Perhaps more importantly, a focus on social-emotional learning helped build strong habits for students to be successful beyond the classroom. The Social Thinking® approach and aligned curriculum provided a common language for student-teacher and peer interactions, universal protocols for behavior, and the ability to track student development and growth. Teachers and leaders point to improved student behavior, increased participation in student leadership opportunities, and enhanced student voice at the Bates as outcomes of this work.