It seems fitting to revisit my first blog written more than two years ago. Although
I had suffered almost two years of bullying and abuse by a principal when I wrote this: although during those
hellish two years, I witnessed and received his screams and profanities: although I and other women were routinely
addressed in an arrogant and dismissive fashion;although I was coerced to fraudulently complete documents: although
my name was used without my knowledge to document lies as evidence of work never done, still, I was excited
and enthused about the difference we could make for children.
I'd recently become an Olweus Bullying Prevention
Program (OBPP) trainer. I'd trained three schools. The three schools; one in Broward County Public
Schools and two in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, had received the Florida Bullying Prevention Initiative grants.
I was excited and enthused about the potential. I shared that excitement. I spent hours writing grants.
I had two foundations call me: one willing to give me $2,000 dollars to train a school....
Yes. I was excited,
Two years later, I am still excited. I am still enthused. I am not now, however,
so naive. Now I am resolved. Now I know what we must do.
My "A Piece Full World" vision of training feeder
patterns in the OBPP is clearer than ever. But it has changed. I now know we will never ever keep children safe
from bullying without leaders who truly care.
We need leaders in all schools who are educated on the issue
of bullying; know the commitment it will take to even begin to effectively implement a program of prevention that works. We
need district leadership open to listening; listening to new ideas and listening to its employees' reports of bullying
Right now we do not have that.
We have stonewalling and excuse making.
We have bullying leaders at all levels of district administration. Sometimes, as in my case, we have abusive
and violent leaders in our schools. But bullying is so much more than that. It's the being ignored in
meetings: it's the not being invited to the school board member's luncheon in the Principal's conference room:
it's his whispered comments as he passes you in the hall; it's the smirk, the leer, the eye roll, the whisper.
It's the "honey, sweetheart" diminishing of women. It's the unanswered emails. It's the answered
emails too. It's the" what are you doing?" suspicious phone calls.
It's also the initial head scratching
puzzlement; then the gut sinking dismay of knowing you/I work for some--many-- people who are just not nice people. It's
the sinking-even-deeper-into-dismay knowledge that district leadership will not help; that in fact, most will work against
your truth. It's the "oh my God" wrench of clarity that we, when it comes to bullying administrators, are
And so, the journey towards keeping your and my children safe begins with our top district leaders
keeping us safe. I'm somewhere at the bottom. Here's the thing about the bottom: there are a lot of us here. We
really want to help children feel safe. Although there are few at the top, I am betting there are "tippy-top"
leaders who are beginning to understand that children will never be safe if they--our districts' leaders--do not first assure
their employees' safety.
I hope you enjoy my first (and changed up a little) "A Piece Full
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
of my "A Piece Full World" website!
I have started my company! "A Piece Full World"--We create
a Peaceful World one school at a time." I am a middle school counselor and a Certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Trainer.
I share with you my passion for keeping kids safe. We've got the physical safety down, but wow, we adults really need to work
on the emotional safety!
Here you go with the inspiration for my company's name. I hope you enjoy it.
"We gotta put the pieces together to magnificently change the world-otherwise it's like a card table with the
jigsaw pieces scattered about-you know what I mean-walk by on a "blizzardy" Ohio day-sipping a cup of coffee-stand
there (in house slippers) and try to slide a piece into place-nope! looked like it'd fit, but just a little too much edge
You already had the yellow flowers in the corner done. They were pretty easy. Now you have that great
big mass of green forest to do. What do you do? Do you sit down and get started--do you resolve AT LEAST to get the tree's
bark done? Do you call Aunt Mildred in from the kitchen to help? How about the kids-they're in the basement playing x-box-maybe
they'll come put a piece or two in...or do you shrug when the first piece doesn't go in; heave a sigh; look out the window
at the snow coming down (icy roads predicted!) and move on in to watch football with Uncle Dick?
And there lies
the puzzle. The yellow flowers are done. They were easy to put together. But the subtle hues of the blue sky ;the varied
greens and browns of the forest; well, there they lie, scattered pieces on the card table. That jumble of puzzle
pieces makes you feel guilty every time you walk by... until springtime and the real yellow flowers come out. With
some relief you get the box out (with the picture of what it's supposed to look like on the box--more guilt!), sweep the pieces
into the box, and fold up the card table. Both go to the garage.
Our children are like that puzzle.
Our schools are like that puzzle.
Our communities are like that puzzle.
Our nation is like that
We are subtly multi-hued. We are sometimes difficult to fit together.
It's easy to put the
yellow flowers together. But it's only when a unified and diverse "US" comes together
and works HARD at assembling the entire puzzle; that onerous blue sky; that exasperating-- ARGH!-- forest; that
we come together. Because we know it's worth it.
So maybe that's what we're doing here-we're gathering round the
card table and we're putting the puzzle together. It's hard work but, oh yes, we know it's worth it.