Bullying Prevention & Character Building Initiatives
Providing a safe learning environment where students can learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally is our number one priority in Mentor Schools. Beyond talking about measures that address protecting our students' physical safety while in our classrooms, we also focus on measures surrounding social and emotional development.
We work very hard to build a culture of kindness, compassion, and acceptance of others in all of our schools. Along with everyday expectations in our classrooms, this also happens through a variety of extra programming and clubs, such as Rachel’s Challenge, Sandy Hook Promise, Kindness Rallies, the Stick-Together program, and student ambassadors, just to name a few.
Here are a couple examples:
This is a student-led Kindness Rally in which Mentor High School students hosted all 4th and 5th grade students from all of our elementary schools at the Fine Arts Center. This event encompasses the powerful peer-to-peer model of promoting positive interactions.
This is a student-led Kindness Rally where we invited 6-12 grade students in all of Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties to attend. Project Love assists with this event.
This above list of examples highlights only a few examples of the many initiatives we have happening across the district. Please note, many of these programs occur annually or regularly, and we don’t always do a new full-story video on them each year, per our limited resources.
We (at Mentor Schools) believe the majority of our students make good choices, treat others respectfully and come to school ready to learn, but no matter how many programs we have in place, some students will still make poor decisions. And while not always, but often, we find mental health issues at the root of that. Our teachers, support staff, school counselors, psychologists and administrators are all equipped to help students who may be struggling with something. But, we also have extra support services in place for them. Mental Health experts from Crossroads are in each one of our schools every day. Mental Health issues can intensify if left unaddressed. So the Crossroads experts are embedded in our schools to help with early identification and intervention. When students make a poor choice, appropriate disciplinary action is taken, but it is equally important to work to correct a student’s behavior choices with extra support services to help foster positive change.
See Something? Say Something! We regularly encourage all students to reach out to any adult in our schools or an adult whom they trust if they have a concern to share so we can take action. Whether that’s getting someone in touch with an appropriate resource or starting an immediate investigation, open reporting is important for our team to be able to help. Mentor Schools has a crisis hotline and a texting service at Mentor High School where community members and students can voice concerns. While we appreciate the opportunity to speak with someone making a report as it aids in the investigation, reports can also be given anonymously through the crisis hotline service if someone is not comfortable reaching out to us directly.
We do take all reports of bullying and harassment extremely seriously and all reports are thoroughly investigated by our team. When this occurs, appropriate disciplinary action is taken and necessary support services are put in place for our students, though that information cannot be shared publicly due to student privacy laws. Often when we are investigating accusations, the Mentor Police Department and/or Lake County Job and Family Services are involved. If an offense rises to a criminal level, along with school discipline, students may face criminal charges through the Mentor Police, which is handled through the court system.
Other Items to Mention:
Online Monitoring. We run an online monitoring program on all student devices, where whether they’re at school or at home, there are keywords in our system that are flagged -- and if a student searches something concerning or emails something to another student or friend -- we are notified. When we are notified we can check in on these students and call their parents/guardians. Sometimes we’ve found students searching something like depression - and found they were doing it for a health class project, other times it has alerted us to put some additional support services in place for a student.
Health Curriculum. Mentor Schools exceeds the ODE required amount of health courses for our students by requiring health at each grade level during middle school. Students also take a required health course as freshmen at the high school. Health class provides a good opportunity to discuss social and emotional initiatives.
Advisory. All of our secondary students participate in an “Advisory” period. At the middle school this is an everyday touchpoint. At the high school this is once a week. Advisory was created to cultivate relationships and it provides an opportunity in our students’ day to give special programming, on non-academic specific topics. A great example of use of this time is bringing in our partners from NAMI - where guest speakers talk about suicide awareness. We have also brought in experts to address the importance of staying drug-free, as well as the importance of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, among many other important topics for teenagers.
Elementary Schools. Daily Morning Meetings (Responsive Classroom) in all classrooms, Crossroads counselors in all buildings, Kindness themes throughout the year, Student Ambassadors (some schools), Buddy Benches at recess (some schools), Stick Together Program against bullying for all schools, Kindness Rally for all district 4th & 5th graders, Start with Hello (Sandy Hook Promise).
Middle Schools. We operate the Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) program at both middle schools. This is a middle school transition program that welcomes middle schoolers with the goal of making them feel comfortable in the new model of school experience (moving from elementary to middle school is a big deal!). WEB is built on the belief that students want to and can help other students succeed. The middle schools also select a One School, One Book project each year which promotes kindness.
Student Clubs. The high school has five specialized clubs and activities aimed at raising awareness surrounding mental health and bullying issues. They are: CARDS (Caring And Respect Determine Success), PRIDE, GAHTAH (Give A Hand, Take A Hand), Friends of Rachel and Beauty of Diversity. Each of the middle schools also has a Friends of Rachel club for students to spread a message of kindness and compassion throughout the school and community. Many of our anti-bullying initiatives include peer-to-peer messaging, which can be a powerful tool.
The long-standing bullying report on our website is a response to an Ohio Revised Code requirement and its specific definition of bullying. This report does not account for everyday, unkind behaviors that happen in our schools. Below are charts that better illustrate the number of unkind behaviors we unfortunately experience in our schools and the discipline that has occurred as a result. This data includes information from all of our schools.
We can assure you, safety is something our staff takes extremely seriously. A high percentage of our professional development for both certified and classified staff revolves around either physical or social/emotional safety. It’s a big responsibility to have the community’s children in our care every day. Our work with our safety plans is never finished; there is always more we can do. Please know that there is a team of professionals in Mentor working to keep our students as safe as possible while they are in our care at school.