Albert Lea district battles bullyingPublished 10:22am Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Column: Mike Funk, No. 2 Pencilincredible
Bullying takes place throughout society, including schools. That is a fact. When tragic events occur that are related to bullying, they become front-page news, and people want to know what schools are doing to ensure kids are safe.
Since becoming superintendent at Albert Lea almost three years ago, I have often been asked what we are doing about bullying in our schools. We have many programs in place at the elementary, middle and high schools. To help raise awareness of these programs, I have invited the media to meet with teachers and administrators to report on our programs. I have also participated in a bullying focus group sponsored by the Albert Lea Tribune. Our efforts over the past few years have been reported on, like when the Tribune did a six-part series about bullying in late 2010.
For 2011-12, we have also implemented an advisory period at both the middle and high schools where students spend time with an advisory teacher for 15 minutes a day. These advisories allow students to connect with other students and an adviser and to share in a safe environment.
We have also revamped our approach to educating our middle school students, as we now have them teamed with the same core academic group of teachers. These teachers meet throughout the week and are able to identify behaviors, and strategize on interventions when behavior becomes an issue with a student on the team.
During this upcoming summer, we have 25 elementary teachers attending training on Responsive Classroom, an approach to education that reduces problem social behaviors, and increases academic achievement. More information on Responsive Classroom can be found at www.responsiveclassroom.org.
To get a better perspective on what life is like in our schools, I have also invited the Tribune to come and spend a week in one of our schools this year to report on the daily life for students and staff in our school system. I am hopeful that it takes me up on this offer. I also encourage the paper to report on our Responsive Classroom training this summer.
As a parent of three daughters who attend Albert Lea Area Schools, I am pleased with our efforts to ensure that are our schools safe and welcoming. Although we are not perfect, we are striving to be better.
Mike Funk is the superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools.