Prevention, kindness has school in the pink
Okotoks: St. John Paul II Collegiate takes care to stop bullying
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 06:00 am
An ounce of prevention — sprinkled with love — is worth a pound of care.
“We teach a culture of kindness,” said Leah Carter, St. John Paul II Collegiate family school liaison. “Teaching how kindness can make a difference.”
Pink Day will be celebrated on Feb. 28. It’s an anti-bully campaign that stresses to students, and all people, to treat each other with respect.
Pink Day starts from the first day of school at SJPII, with teachers getting to know all of the 700-plus students.
“I have seen staff go out of their way, going out to a bus loop, when they aren’t on bus supervision and knowing a student has had a rough day, reach out just to have a little chat with them,” said Marco Pacione, vice-principal at SJPII. “The culture in our school is to look out for kids who may be down and see what they need our support with.”
He admits, just like a family, there can be conflicts now and then – especially if it is a family of 700 students in Grades 7 to 9.
“We are aware that conflicts do happen and we like to deal with it before it becomes bullying,” Pacione said. “If they are having a bad day, we want to deal with. Give kids the tools to help them through it before it becomes something that is bullying.”
Carter said it can be a case as simple as a student seeing a photo online of his or her best friend at a gathering and wondering why they weren’t invited.
“Right away this person is worrying: why do they hate me, what did I do, why wasn’t I invited?’’’ Carter said. “What we have done in the past is bring the two together and say, ‘hey, lets work this out.’
“Texting and snapchatting about it, doesn’t always solve the problem.”
Those talks get started because students feel welcome to talk to staff members about any issues they have, Pacione said.
“There’s a trust that has been established,” Pacione said. “Kids feel that this is a safe place. They trust that we aren’t going to jump all over it to make it worse. Sometimes people disagree, that’s part of life... let’s work it out. Usually when students walk out of the room, it’s a restored relationship.”
He said the result is often tears from students.
“They are positive tears, the kids walk out of the room feeling better than they did when the conflict was brewing,” he said.
If the issue is a minor incident, often students and staff are able to resolve the issue among themselves.
“They are the ones we are teaching and guiding,” Carter said.
But if things escalate the child’s parents will be made aware of the situation right away.
It’s not just the staff watching out for the students — so are the other students.
“Often times it’s a student coming to staff and ‘hey this kid is having a bad day or this child seems sad can you check on them,’” Carter said.
“Sometimes you will have a child come with another child – they will act as a spokesman,” he said. They will say: ‘Johnny didn’t want to come to you, but I want to make sure he is okay. Here’s what happened...’”
It’s not about disciplining a student at St. John Paul II, it’s about helping them.
Administrators, counsellors and teachers meet every Tuesday to discuss issues about students and what can be done to help.
Pacione knows first-hand the importance of solving an issue early.
“I remember being unkind to a child when I was in Grade 6,” he said. “I actually ran into the principal who disciplined me two years ago, who is now retired. The way he handled the situation - his grace but firmness, it was an important life lesson for me.”