A defining characteristic of successful prevention/intervention strategies is a strong sense of partnership among school/district staff, families and the broader community. The more time and energy invested in outreach, communication and partnership building over the course of a bullying prevention initiative — and particularly early on — the less likely it is to falter at some point, if not fizzle out altogether.
- For many BPI grantees, the lack of buy-in among key stakeholders has proven to be a major stumbling block to change and improvement, as evidenced by problems such as:
- Resistance on the part of teachers to dedicating class time to bullying prevention, or on the part of district officials to providing funds for training, curriculum enhancements and ongoing climate assessment
- Conflict over — and, in some cases, outright opposition to — new policies and practices among parents and/or school staff
- Failure to develop a leadership team capable of advancing school/community bullying prevention efforts.
- On the other hand, a number of BPI grantees have made notable progress on this front, as the following profiles show.
Lake County School District
Lake County School District, which serves a predominantly Hispanic student population of 1,200 in the historic mountain town of Leadville, has given sustained attention and effort to strengthening school-family-community connections.
Thanks to the leadership of Dean of Students Cathy Beck, the district has developed a strong working relationship with the Leadville Community Collaborative and Full Circle of Lake County Inc., which offer services ranging from after-school programs to service-learning opportunities to support for immigrant and refugee families.
Quarterly “coffee talks” with parents, co-sponsored by the district and Full Circle, have served to promote open communication, mutual understanding and a sense of shared responsibility. Parents trust school administrators to create and follow through on bullying prevention policies, even when it means their own children are in trouble, because they see the overall positive impact on school climate and student achievement.
Cultural competency is a defining feature of Lake County’s bullying prevention/intervention strategies. For example, Beck meets regularly with parents served by Leadville’s immigrant-integration programs, and on occasion wears translation equipment so meetings can be conducted in Spanish.
Such efforts reflect recognition by school and community leaders that (1) partnership building requires understanding and valuing the diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of parents and students and (2) immigrant integration is a two-way street that involves adaptation not only on the part of the immigrants themselves, but also on the part of the community where they now live.
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Englewood School District
Engaging as many community partners as possible in bullying education and prevention has been a central strategy of the Englewood School District, which serves 3,300 students in a small city just south of Denver.
Project director Cathy Mandel and other district staff have devoted substantial time and energy to cultivating relationships, both formal and informal, with business and civic leaders, service clubs, city agencies, and a variety of youth-serving organizations.
At Mandel’s invitation, a school board member attended a regional training on bullying prevention, and members of the Englewood Recreation Center staff have been included in district-hosted “learning circles.” In 2007, the district and the recreation center teamed up to sponsor a Saturday night dance and several other activities for students and families affected by the impending merger of the city’s two middle schools. These activities gave kids at both schools a chance to get acquainted, and helped set a tone of unity heading into the new school year.
Also thanks to Mandel’s efforts, the principal and staff of Englewood High School have committed to implementing the Bully Proofing Your School program at the secondary level.