Teachers, staff become pupils during January 22 inservice by M. Jill Karolevitz Vermillion�s teachers and school administrative staff became pupils Jan. 22 as they spent the day in an inservice titled �Respect and Protect � Violence Prevention and Intervention.�
The workshop was presented by Katherine Piller of the Johnson Institute, Omaha, NE.
�This is a comprehensive violence prevention program,� said Pat Anderson, principal of Vermillion Middle School, where the inservice was held. �The entire K-12 staff attended the day-long event.�
Anderson noted that Vermillion does not have a problem with violence in its schools, but staff throughout the system need to learn measures to prevent its possibility.
�It�s been proven by school violence in the United States, that it can happen anywhere, in any district in the country, at any time,� he said. �But this program is designed to help us teach kids how to develop effective problem solving skills, anger management and conflict resolution skills, enhance self esteem, develop healthy communication skills and build better basic social skills.�
Staff members also benefit.
�The program provides us with a lot of information on how to identify lower level behavior � such as eye rolling and name calling � that can progress into more violent activity,� said Liz Hogen, director of curriculum and staff development for the school district. �It also gives us a good awareness about how to handle situations that may arise, along with giving us a consistent plan to use throughout the district � from teachers and administrators, to bus drivers and lunch room staff � in dealing with these types of behaviors.�
The �Respect and Protect� program is extensive, but Anderson pointed out several subjects it covered, including the types of non-physical violence that may escalate to physical violence. He pointed out the �violence continuum,� which begins with eye rolling and moves upward to starting rumors, gesturing, staring/leering, writing graffiti, threatening, name calling, taunting, stealing, damaging property, sexual harassment, stalking, intimidation, spitting, shoving/punching, hitting/kicking, flashing a weapon, stabbing someone and shooting someone with a gun.
�We have to learn about these kinds of things as times change,� Anderson said. �As children are more exposed to violence, we have to take active steps to help them deal with it.�
The ultimate goals of �Respect and Protect� are:
1. To ensure the safety and well-being of both students and educators.
2. To reduce the severity and frequency of and eventually to eliminate all incidents of violence from the school setting.
3. To eliminate the two pervasive attitudes that directly spawn and support violence in schools � entitlement and tolerance.
4. To create a safe, supportive, nurturing, nonpunitive atmosphere that is highly conducive to learning.
�If the climate of your school is that of a safe, welcoming place, kids are definitely going to learn better,� Anderson said.
He added that inservices are a benefit to school staff members, regardless of the subject matter.
�Learning is a continual process,� Anderson said.