Bullying can have devastating consequences and should no longer be considered a rite of passage for children and teens. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and Tecumseh Public Schools is committed to creating a school culture where learners, staff and visitors are accepted and treated with respect.
“Through the development of our Strategic Design, our stakeholders discussed how important it is for our learners and community to be accepting of others who have differing cultures, experiences, and ideas,” said Dr. Kelly Coffin, Superintendent. “Being a caring communicator is one of our Exit Learner Outcomes for TPS graduates. We want them to be empathetic, compassionate, generous and kind.”
TPS staff works hard to guide learners as they learn to resolve conflict and build positive relationships as they become accepting, cooperative and adaptable young adults. Principals and staff at Compass Learning Center have adopted a schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) structure that provides the structure needed for young learners as they learn social, emotional and behavior expectations.
“PBIS is new this year, but we are already seeing a difference in behavior,” said Trisha Howard, Upper Elementary Principal. “Consistency is the key component. Our learners know they are expected to treat each other nicely and practice safe behavior whether they are in the classroom, on the playground, or in the community.”
PBIS extends into the STEAM Centers where 7th- and 8th- grade learners also work with mentors, participate in workshops and have peer groups available to learn to be more accepting of others.
“Adolescence is a difficult time. We strive to help learners work through challenges and frustrations in a positive way,” said Mary Tommelien STEAM Center Counselor. “Our staff uses mentor time to check in with learners and we work to proactively address issues. It is our goal to help learners recognize that this behavior is unacceptable and it’s important to report it to an adult. We work to help all learners learn respect for others while assisting them in developing compromise and problem-solving skills.”
Student organizations at Tecumseh High School serve their peers through awareness campaigns, educational programming, and peer-to-peer support. Learners then share their perspectives with facilitators to help improve school culture. Recent feedback provided to school administrators from Youth Education and Awareness of Harassment (YEAH) resulted in a newly-expanded bullying reporting form.
“We wanted to update the reporting form to include harassment, and to give students the opportunity to describe their situation rather than just checking a few boxes on form,” said Melanie McNamara, YEAH board member. “YEAH works to teach students about what harassment is, the consequences of harassment and how to find support if they experience harassment,”
Jacob Anastasoff, THS 9th and 10th grade principal, said counselors and administrators take all reports of bullying and harassment seriously.
“We want to maintain a safe environment at THS, and we investigate each claim as soon as a learner files a report. But we need to be made aware of situations in order to help,” he said. “We know it can be difficult for learners to report an incident, but we don’t see everything - especially if the activity is happening online, and it’s important that the learners notify an adult so we can step in to help.”
TPS counselors work with learners to determine an action plan for finding a resolution and providing learners with additional support.
“Most situations can be resolved with a conversation with the parties involved. We will continue to monitor the learners involved to help ensure there are no ongoing problems,” said Deb Followell THS Guidance Counselor. “Additional support and resources are available for both the reporter and the aggressor. This is important because sometimes the unwanted behavior stems from personal issues in that learner’s own life that can’t be resolved with punishments like detention or suspension.”
Dr. Coffin said the district’s anti-bullying policy and Strategic Design provide the framework to help ensure TPS is a safe, healthy and positive learning environment for all learners.
“It is the district’s expectation that all learners and adults model civil and respectful behavior,” she said. “We know that when students feel physically, emotionally and intellectually safe they are more focused and engaged in learning and look forward to returning to school each day.”
More information about bullying prevention awareness events, information and support resources will be shared with families on the district website, social media accounts and newsletters throughout the month of October.