- SUSTAINED CLIMATE CHANGE
- Formal protocols for dealing with bullying that are widely understood and accepted
- Steady growth in the number of teachers and other adults who model positive behavior, clearly and consistently communicate that bullying is not acceptable, and are capable of intervening effectively in bullying situations
- Routines and rituals that reflect and reinforce a commitment to the safety, well being and healthy development of all kids
- A strong, stable core of leadership for bullying prevention efforts.
Bringing about fundamental, lasting change in the social climate of schools and communities is a challenging process that requires (1) systematic, strategic changes in policy, practice and resource allocation and (2) continuous attention to outreach, communication and partnership building. Among key indicators of progress are:
Following are several outstanding examples of efforts on the part of BPI grantees to institutionalize change and improvement in the school/community social climate.
- Peak to Peak Charter School
At Peak to Peak, a K-12 public charter school serving 1,300 students in the community of Lafayette northwest of Denver, a number of activities demonstrate movement toward sustained climate change. Peak to Peak’s administration and staff are making concerted, strategic efforts to promote a sense of “connectedness,” including:
- Holding schoolwide assemblies focused on themes such as the importance of friendship and getting involved in community service. One assembly featured a presentation on the local food bank; at another, the father of a victim of the Columbine shootings shared his perspective on the importance of developing positive relationships at school.
- Making sure that teachers and other staff model positive behavior. Concerned that some adults in the school were (and were seen by students as) operating within cliques, the administration has planned social activities designed to encourage greater interaction among staff members.
- Identifying students perceived to be isolated, and making sure these kids do not eat lunch alone and that other students engage them in activities and discussions. Peak to Peak’s executive principal expects staff members to greet each student daily, and has identified what he terms as the “go to” kids who seem to need a little extra attention and support. He takes opportunities to learn what personal or school problems these students are experiencing, and makes a point to periodically check in with them.
As part of its bullying prevention efforts, Peak to Peak recently held its first annual Tolerance Day, which featured a display of “Cultures Around the World,” guest speakers from diverse cultural backgrounds and a panel of people to answer students’ questions. The day’s activities kicked off with the unveiling of the school’s new Respect Wall, which is made up of 1,200 tiles designed by students in art class with the theme of “peace and respect” in mind.
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Boulder Valley School District
Boulder Valley, one of the top-performing school districts in Colorado, encompasses 55 schools in Boulder and 10 surrounding communities with a combined enrollment of 30,000. Over the past several years, the district has laid the groundwork for sustained climate change by:
- Requiring that schools specifically address bullying prevention in their annual improvement plans
- Developing extra-duty contracts with staff to serve as school-climate liaisons responsible for monitoring and facilitating implementation of bullying-prevention programming at each school
- Sponsoring parent-education events and activities throughout the school year, and a biennial Middle School Summit that gives 7th and 8th graders a chance to share their ideas, experiences and concerns with school-climate liaisons
- Increasing training capacity by having several staff members who are certified in the Bully Proofing Your School program.
Buffalo School District
Calhan School District
As part of their bullying prevention efforts, school leaders in these two rural eastern Colorado communities have focused on changing attitudes and behaviors with regard to high school athletics.
In Calhan, visiting teams are greeted with a welcome gift; a banner displaying their name, school colors and mascot; and a hospitality table offering food and beverages for players’ parents and friends. This tradition sends a strong message to young people and adults alike about the importance of mutual respect and good sportsmanship.
At Merino High School, a perennial powerhouse in wrestling, eight-man football and girls basketball, principal Dave Kautz has focused on creating an environment in which talent and success in areas other than sports are recognized and celebrated. As an example, students’ drawings and paintings are on display throughout the school, and one wall showcases the work of a student selected as “artist of the month.”
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Ellicott School District
Jessica Hall, bullying prevention coordinator for the Ellicott School District in rural eastern Colorado, has made good use of evaluation results and other data to strengthen collective commitment to change and improvement.
From the start, Hall has focused on steadily enlarging recognition, particularly among administrators, of the importance of creating a safer, healthier learning environment for children and youth. Hall has met regularly with principals and the superintendent to share the district’s progress toward reducing bullying, as well as feedback from teachers and students as they learn more about prevention/intervention strategies. She has expanded these presentations to include parents and school staff.
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Center for Restorative Programs
In September 2007, the Center for Restorative Programs (formerly the San Luis Valley Victim Offender Reconciliation Program) hosted the San Luis Valley School Climate Symposium for 14 area school districts. The symposium featured several guest speakers on bullying prevention, social emotional learning, dating violence, GLBTQ issues, immigration, Safe2Tell and other topics. Several school districts have responded to the Center’s offer to assess school climate and provide programming. This not only ensures that school and district anti-bullying efforts will continue in a consistent manner, but also help to financially support the Center’s work in prevention and intervention.