It has been a big month for this blog!
The trouble with major initiatives and new programs is that it makes the “normal” weeks feel boring by comparison! Over the last three weeks, I’ve introduced edJEWcon 5772.0 (with frequent updates via Twitter, @edJEWcon, about exciting keynote speakers and the application process); Jon’s #NoOfficeDay, which takes place this September 13th and will be the subject of next week’s blog post); and described The Inclusive Jewish Day School we are striving to be. Who can keep up the pace!
This week, I have nothing quite as sexy to report on, but it may be of equal or even greater importance to the overall health and wellbeing of our students and our school. I want to talk a little bit about “bullying” and how our school and synagogue is striving to keep our children physically, emotionally and spiritually safe.
“Bullying” (which I am putting in quotes to signify how loaded a term it has become) exists in all forms and in all schools. It can be qualified (physical, emotional, virtual or cyber, exclusionary, etc.) as well as quantified (how many children affected, how often do incidents occur, etc.) – but it cannot be responsibly ignored. The only relevant question is how to reduce it – how do we make our schools and synagogues as safe and nurturing as we can?
Surprise! There is no magic bullet! There are tons of books, programs, videos and assemblies of different qualities that schools often use to address this issue. So why is it still so prevalent?
My guess? It takes an institutional commitment that is hard to maintain in order to reduce bullying to its most minimal level.
Thanks to the hard work of two of our parents (one of whom has children in both our Day and Religious Schools) and our new Second Rabbi, Jesse Olitzky, we are in the process of developing just such an institutional approach to reducing bullying at the Jacksonville Jewish Center in all its schools and programs. We will look to incorporate successful strategies from other schools, the latest research, survey data from our children, parents and teachers, and the synergetic partnership of our clergy to couch everything in the Jewish values we strive to live up to each and every day.
Consider this the teaser.
Together, we look forward to making our schools the safe nurturing environment for learning we have been entrusted to create. Working together – parent, student, teacher, administration, clergy, Preschool, Day School, Religious School, Makom, USY, etc. – we will do more than any of us could accomplish alone.
This is not a “Day School” issue – you can be a parent in any of our schools or programs to participate (and the more variety the better). You don’t have to be a parent at all, in fact. If this subject speaks to you and you want to be part of the solution, please let me know and you can be part of the planning.
Next week: Video from Jon’s #NoOfficeDay!