Lack of resources prompts mother to create The Feelings Friends

Last week Karen Cuthrell, founder of The Feelings Company, led training on social and emotional learning at Kimberley Park Elementary School.

Lack of resources prompts mother to create The Feelings Friends
November 24
16:00 2021

When her daughter was diagnosed with depression when she was only six years old, Karen Cuthrell was told she had to find a way to get her daughter to talk about her emotions. Cuthrell, who is a native of Winston-Salem, said that’s when she started laying the foundation for The Feelings Company. 

Cuthrell said when her daughter was diagnosed, she felt as if she had failed as a mother. “I felt I had failed as a mother because I was a stay-at-home mom and it was my job to make sure she was OK,” Cuthrell said. To help her daughter express her emotions, Cuthrell came up with the idea for 12 unique fictional characters, each one representing a different emotion. 

“There were no tools on the market to help her and nobody would give me the tools, so I had to do it myself. I had to do something to get her to talk about her emotions,” Cuthrell said. “I realized she liked characters, music, books, and all that kind of stuff, so that’s how The Feeling Friends (TFF) and The Feelings Company (TFC) started. “

Today, Cuthrell says her daughter is her best friend and The Feelings Friends has grown to become a classroom- and evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that systematically promotes students’ social and emotional competencies, and offers multi-year programming to ensure that students grow socially and emotionally stronger in the early years. 

TFF Educational Program provides application, opportunities, and implementation strategies for SEL interactions by providing educators with the tools they need to teach throughout the day. 

The foundation of the program is the Collaborative Academic, Social, Emotional, Learning (CASEL) Theory of Action. In 2019 the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the CASEL’s Collaborative State Initiative formed a team to scale up social emotional learning in public schools. 

(CASEL) Theory of Action says schools are more effective at teaching and reinforcing SEL for students when they also cultivate SEL competencies in adults, which is why before students are introduced to characters like “Lotta Love the LovaRoo” and “Franny the Fear Frog,” Cuthrell holds a training session with teachers and administrators. 

“We have to build our competency with the adults before we can build the children’s competency. We cannot go and teach children how to manage their emotions if we don’t know how to manage our own,” Cuthrell said. 

While leading a training session at Kimberley Park Elementary School, Cuthrell asked the group to discuss some of the places they’ve been, experiences they’ve had, and people they know, and the emotions that are attached to each of them. Then she asked if they brought those emotions into the classroom with them. During the training, the group of educators really opened up and expressed a wide range of emotions. 

Cuthrell said the partnership with Kimberley Park was spearheaded by Principal Diamond Cotton. Cuthrell said she worked with Cotton when she was the principal at Rural Hall Elementary School. 

When asked about the future of TFF and The Feelings Company, Cuthrell said she wants to see the program implemented in schools across the state. 

“I want to see The Feelings Friends implemented in every elementary school in the state because that’s how we’re going to change our state and make sure students are leaving school prepared academically as well as socially.” 

For more information on The Feelings Company, visit .

About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors