Host a speaker without the travel costs

Parenting Tips from Grandma Jo

My Grandma Jo has quickly become a memorable figure from my live school assembly. She loves, she dishes wisdom, and (most of all) Grandma don’t play!  In this special interview Grandma talks about what it was like to watch her grandson face bullying at school. Her insight can help parents and students today.

Schools Flip the Script on Anti-Bullying Messages

Educators in Arkansas are using new language to address the issue of bullying.  Often anti-bullying messages deter negative behavior, aiming at stopping bullies and encouraging victims to report all incidents.  Many educators are looking to add some positivity to the mix, encouraging students to be emotionally resilient and resolve simple conflicts with kind words.

One school that’s setting an example is Southside Middle School in Batesville, AR.  Principal, Kayla Turner, will tell you that it all starts in the classroom.  This year, Southside staff are training students to be “Golden Rule Ambassadors”, using my social and emotional curriculum.  “Teachers use the lessons during advisory time.” says Turner.  “This is 15 minutes per day of gender specific small groups, focused around social and emotional needs of students.” 

Bully Free Zone Poster

A teacher takes a final picture with this poster before replacing it, following a Jeff Veley training.

The state of Arkansas requires schools to display posters prohibiting bullying on campus.  Many schools find the state-supplied posters to be negative and rather unhelpful.  Some schools have replaced these with educational posters which reinforce conflict resolution skills and coping techniques.  Turner recently hung my set of Peace Posters.

If I’m a student that’s being picked on, a “no bully zone” poster isn’t going to help me.  Reminding me that “words only have the power that you give them” is the message that targets need to hear.  The most effective educators that I go beyond empathizing with students who are picked on.  Building on this, they teach the child how to protect their feelings and respond when someone is mean to them. 

It’s always a joy to see schools using conflict as an educational opportunity.  If you’d like to change the culture in your school, please contact us about hosting a presentation or learn more about the Campus Peace-Building Initiative.


Montana School District Hosts Community Forum on Mental Health

Community members filled the Dawson County High School Auditorium in Glendive, Montana on January 2nd.  The “Stronger Together Community Forum” was created to address growing mental health concerns.  It is expected to be the first in a series of discussions to help address topics like chemical dependence, suicide, bullying, and depression.

The forum was facilitated by Glendive Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Schreibeis and national youth speaker and bullying prevention specialist Jeff Veley.  Prior to the evening forum, Veley had facilitated a professional development training entitled “Empowering Students and Improving Campus Culture” at Glendive.  Together, the two provided information on mental health issues impacting youth both locally and across the nation.Stronger Together Poster

Veley took the stage to share the increase in bullying and anxiety issues nationwide and offered free resources for parents.   He shared the importance of teaching coping skills for suicide prevention.  Focusing more closely on Montana and the local area, Schreibeis candidly shared the challenges that he sees educators and kids face everyday.  He shared that schools are facing a dramatic increase in students with complex mental health issues.  In addition, more students are qualifying for special education programming due to behavioral diagnoses.  While mental health impacts students, schools are not mental health institutions.  Despite increased training and connecting with kids, the needs sometimes outweigh the resources.

Community members joined were invited to ask questions anonymously, via text.  Once received, the submissions were displayed on the auditorium screen for all to see and respond to.  Several attendees raised their hands, offering resources and building connections with those across the aisle.  Those in attendance included school officials, clergy, therapists, law enforcement, and coalition leaders.  The questions and answers are being compiled into a working document to further conversation and will be distributed to those who signed up.