With the start of the new year and the end of the quarter approaching on Jan. 20, it is a good time to remind you about the district’s position on bullying and harassment.
The School District of Rhinelander’s administration, our six principals and all of our staff take any threat of bullying or harassment very seriously. The Board of Education is “committed to providing a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment for all of its students. Aggressive behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff or third parties, is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.”
Recognizing that inappropriate and rude behavior may not necessarily be bullying, but could lead to such behavior if left unaddressed, our principals, teachers and staff assist children on a daily basis in handling improper behavior.
The first step in combating bullying is to create awareness. Children are given communication tools and work on conflict resolution on a daily basis. The Peaceful Playground program at Crescent and Pelican Elementary schools is built on conflict resolution, and offers students the tools to communicate in a more effective manner. The Matrix Walk implemented at Crescent, Pelican and Central schools demonstrates and reinforces appropriate behavior on the bus, in school hallways, and at other school locations.
Northwoods Community Elementary School (NCES) and Central School are Caring School Communities, and reinforce the 4 B’s-Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful and Be Here. Crescent, Pelican, NCES and Central have daily checks with the students, as well as well as weekly classroom meetings.
At Northwoods Community Secondary School (NCSS), students and staff start each morning and end each day with the Circle. Students are able to share concerns and implement conflict resolution techniques.
At James Williams Middle School, students participated in a Youth Risk Behavior survey. The responses show us that school safety is a priority for the kids-and that they have become comfortable reporting incidents of inappropriate behavior or bullying. Students have a role-not to be a bystander, but to call out inappropriate behavior and stand up by telling the offender, “This should not be done in my presence.”
Both James Williams and Rhinelander High School recently hosted an original “Freedom Writer” Manuel Scott. Mr. Scott’s presentation and advisory follow up is reflected in RHS’s anti-bullying theme. Homeroom teachers conduct discussions on bullying and harassment. Service Learning students conduct anti-bullying and harassment lessons in all 9th grade homerooms.
District staff investigates all reports of bullying, and after identifying the level of the complaint, has contact with parents. Depending upon the case, further steps could include mediation, teen court, restorative justice or a referral to Social Services. In some cases, the District Police Liaison officer is involved.
In 2008, the district developed Social Emotion Learning programs. Social Emotion Learning is a process for learning life skills, including how to deal with one’s self, others and relationships, and work in an effective manner. The social emotional learning programs are part of our Caring Schools Community, which focuses on Helping Others Develop Assets to Grow and Succeed (HODAGS).
Mrs. Maney, Mrs. Knudtson, Mrs. Phalin, Mr. Howell, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Keats are active principals in their schools, and take all reports of inappropriate behavior, bullying or harassment very seriously. Any student that believes they have been or is the victim of aggressive behavior should immediately report the situation to the building principal, assistant principal, or the superintendent.
If, at any time, a parent would like to know more details on the strategies that are implemented at their child’s school, I invite you to contact your child’s principal or district superintendent, Roger Erdahl.
Kim Swisher is available by calling (715) 365-9700, ext. 5701, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.