October is National Bullying Prevention Month and many school districts across Northeast Ohio have programs in place to curb the issue year-round.
The “Making A Difference” program has been in South Euclid schools for the last three years. It’s been in the Euclid School District for more than a decade and in several Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools for the last five years. Now, there are plans to expand.
The program, run by Angela Flowers, uses school-wide initiatives like assemblies and parent engagement, coupled with small group and one-on-one counseling to help students communicate in a positive way.
Flowers said they have seen real success since they started.
“We’ve seen changes with their academic performance, we’ve seen changes within the classroom environment, and then we’ve seen changes within the home environment,” Flowers said.
Maleeka Bussey is the principal at Rowland Elementary in South Euclid. She said she’s seen the success, too. They use "Making a Difference" coupled with another program called "Conscious Discipline," which teaches children how to communicate their feelings and how to best deal with conflict.
“In everything that we do, you want to change the culture,” Bussey said. “If you don’t want to have bullying, then you need to change your culture and we’ve changed our culture to try to ensure we don’t have bullying here at Rowland Elementary School.”
One of the ways they do that is by treating the school as a family. Every morning, they have a “family” meeting, with greetings. Then classroom teachers greet their students and in turn, students will greet their classmates.
By making small but impactful changes like that, Bussey said, they’ve changed their culture into a positive one.