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Providing a Positive Environment for All Students

In my work as superintendent, I have many priorities to ensure we’re creating the best experience for all of our students. One of these priorities centers on the social and emotional well being of the children we serve.

I want every child in Mariemont City Schools to succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally. To make this goal a reality, we make a variety of support programs and services available to all of our district students.

At the elementary level, we use the OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program, a nationally renowned, whole-school bullying curriculum aimed at grades K-6 on a school, classroom and individual level. At both of our elementary schools, we implement a number of programs and activities to educate our students about standing up for themselves and for each other. Each month, the schools focus on an anti-bullying-related theme associated with a piece of children’s literature that is read and discussed at all grade levels. The counseling staff also creates a monthly calendar related to the theme, with daily suggestions on how the students can demonstrate the theme.

Starting this month, each teacher will show a video clip during a class meeting to generate discussion around empowering their students to stand up when they see bullying. There are ongoing class meetings with students, as well as staff meetings related to bullying prevention topics and planning; and in each building, the Student Kindness Committee organizes activities throughout the year. Additionally, both schools participate in the Great Kindness Challenge each year and all 5th grade students participate in a Kindness Retreat, which aims at empowering our kids to include and be respectful of others.

At the junior high and high school levels, we maintain the lessons and themes from OLWEUS and use the knowledge and insight that students at this age can give to continue to guide the program. For example, at the high school, Campus Life is an inclusive group that students can join at any time and the club works to plan fun events and activities for students. And at the junior high, Climate Council provides treats with personalized notes for occasions such as Halloween, exam week and Valentine's Day. Studies show that as student stress levels decrease, so does the frequency of bullying.

It is my hope that, by putting programs in place and raising awareness about this issue, we can strategically ensure that bullying prevention is a major area of focus district-wide, and, in turn, provide the most positive learning environments possible in our schools. I encourage you to listen to our next ConnectME podcast to learn more about this important work.

As parents, community members, teachers and administrators, we all share a common goal of wanting our students to feel safe and supported. Teaching our children positive life habits and that it’s OK to ask for and offer help is just another way we are guiding them to become better Leaders of Tomorrow.
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Steven Estepp