The second year of training to comply with a federal mandate saw smaller numbers of attendance, but more team building for representatives of eight area schools.
Teachers, administrators and professors came together at the College Lodge for a week-long Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) workshop.
Carrie Fitzgerald and Laura Geraci, assistant professors at SUNY Fredonia, have taught Dunkirk High School, Dunkirk Middle School, Clymer, Sherman, Westfield, Brocton, Chautauqua Lake and Frewsburg, and will continue to do so.
OBSERVER Photo by Mark Belcher
Teachers and administrators from eight local schools attended a week long Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) workshop. They are on a five-year path to establishing bully resistant classrooms.
"The schools are all doing great things, but their programs are still in planning stages," Fitzgerald said. "It is a three- to five-year process to really get this program going and effective."
But she added it is worth it, citing studies in three southern states with similar programs, and they all saw progress toward the overall goal - a decrease in bullying.
Geraci said last year, while in the SUNY Fredonia Incubator, there wasn't much collaboration between schools, but she said she saw it this year.
The teams spent their week attending sessions from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon, and for many of the teachers, it was all volunteer work.
One such teacher is Michelle Crowell from Brocton.
"This isn't about making big sweeping changes," she said. "Every group brings what they learned back to their school to make progress."
She said the exchange between schools is part of what is making the camp worthwhile. She said Brocton is instituting several new things to make every child feel special, like individual birthday recognition, principals lunch and activity days, like their Groundhog Day this past year.
"I think PBIS helps kids be kids and teachers be teachers," she explained.
But Crowell said the workshop is helping give the tools to arm kids against bullying. She said the change from bullying to cyber bullying isn't the biggest issue; there have always been situations that happen outside of school, but they are now better informing children on how they can act and react in these situations.
"I think if we keep the atmosphere positive in schools, we are bound to have more academic success," she said.
Friday was the final day of this summer's session, but the two professors said they are available throughout the year to help the fledgling programs in any way they need.
"Laura and I do a lot of research, and we are always up to date on the federal mandates," Fitzgerald said. "We are almost hyper vigilant with the reading we do."
Fitzgerald said they focused on bully-proofing classrooms this year. She said they talked about establishing schoolwide expectations and heavy data collection.
"The ultimate goal is to change students by positively influencing their behavior so they can succeed academically."
She said in order to keep the session fun, they instituted a 54-item scavenger hunt that took place all week, along with other things to stimulate a team building and learning conducive environment.
But she said the representatives deserve a lot of credit, as they took it all seriously and learned a lot.
"They're really committed to changing schools, and school culture," she said. "The schools are all doing great things."
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