OCTOBER 2018 Edition
Dear Team PUSD,
Our flags are at half staff following another senseless act of violence against a group of innocent people. What happened at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend shows the tragic results of allowing hate to take hold and poison our society. While we are physically removed from the shooting, our hearts ache for the families who lost their loved ones so suddenly.
We as educators and families must come together to choose kindness over hate, teach and model tolerance and respect for our future generations, and remain vigilant against any threats. This work takes courage, empathy, and strong leadership from children and adults alike.
I saw a quote recently: "Kindness is choosing love over hate, light over darkness, compassion over judgment." As educators, we are in the unique position of being able to teach our young people to choose kindness on a daily basis. October is National Bullying Prevention month. A 2015 study by the National Center for Education found that nationwide, about 21 percent of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying. We know that students cannot learn or achieve to their full potential when they don’t feel safe and secure. Bullied students are also more likely to miss school or drop out of school. And in extreme cases, the results can be tragic, driving teens to take their own lives to end the torment or targeting their bullies with violence. This is unacceptable. We can and must do better. Many people don't realize that one of the reasons I got into education is because I too was bullied for much of my K-12 educational experience. No child should be made to feel afraid or that they don't matter, as I once did.
Teach tolerance and respect
Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego hosted its annual “No Place for Hate” leadership conference. Schools from across Poway Unified School District sent student and administrator teams to receive training on how to create safe and inclusive campuses free from bias and bullying. Simultaneously, PUSD has partnered with the Sandy Hook Promise Organization to bring the new “Start with Hello” program to our schools, which encourages students to take small but powerful actions to promote connectedness and inclusion, and to identify and help others who are showing signs of social isolation. This builds on the existing work that our schools have been doing with LINK crews and Kindness Campaigns to promote empathy and compassion and “Unity Weeks” focused on bridging differences with understanding and respect. Starting in our elementary schools, counselors focus on “Character Counts” lessons and use a “Second Step” curriculum to focus on the issue of bullying. Our schools are also participating in digital citizenship curriculum which addresses cyber bullying, because we know that bullying can be pervasive online. Our staff is receiving training too, to recognize bullying, take immediate action when needed, and to model respectful behavior.
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve school safety and security, we are asking our school community to "see something, say something." Watch this public service announcement with your children. Save the PUSD tipline number into your phone: 844-787-3847 and report any threats to school safety. The tipline is monitored 24-7 by our law enforcement partners.
Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our schools safe and secure,
Marian Kim-Phelps, Ed.D.
Poway Unified School District