Teachers take on bullying at in-service

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chilton County teachers and administrators gathered in the Chilton County High School auditorium Wednesday morning for an in-service stressing methods to combat and prevent bullying in their schools.

Judge Rhonda Hardesty and Jessica Messer attended and offered suggestions and insights while keynote speaker Jay Banks rounded out the day with points from his “STAMP Out Bullying” campaign.

Adorned in a black shirt, black pants and a “STAMP Out Bullying” red rubber wristband, Banks filled the auditorium with his enthusiastic message, garnering consistent audience response.

Board of education school improvement specialist and professional development coordinator Karen Mitchell was pleased with the day’s activities as well as Banks’ enthusiasm for what has become a serious issue in Chilton County schools.

Mitchell said he and the other speakers gave the teachers plenty of substance to chew on as they head into the fall semester.

“Learning is a personal thing,” she said. “What was new or enlightening to one person can be another person’s area of expertise.”

Banks presented a behavior model dividing the definition of bullying into physical, emotional and social on varying levels and quoted several statistics. Mitchell said he is genuinely interested in Chilton County students and teachers and is excited to return to participate in individual school workshops.

Banks said his research suggests the program will help reduce bullying behavior by up to 50-80 percent. Throughout his time, he would challenge the Chilton County educators to stand up against any bullying they notice this year.

“Some schools get serious about it,” he said. “How serious are you?”

The “STAMP” acronym stands for Stay away from bullies, Tell someone, Avoid bad situations, Make friends and Project confidence.

Banks used Nick Saban as an example as someone who motivates his players and helps them to project confidence before playing a big football game. That drew plenty of cheers and some boos from the divided crowd. But Banks’ message remained clear to both sides.

“If it works in sports, it will work with bullying,” he said.

Banks concluded the day with a story about an episode he remembered as being the first of “The Andy Griffith Show.” He went through the entire plot of the episode involving the introduction of Aunt Bea, Sheriff Andy Taylor’s aunt, as his and son Opie’s virtual caretaker. Once the child doesn’t embrace her, the heartbroken aunt opts to leave before Opie begs her to stay, citing, “She needs me” after she couldn’t cook, fish or play baseball to his liking.

Banks emphasized that Chilton County students need their teachers in all facets of education but especially when it comes to bullying.

Once Banks finished, superintendent of education Keith Moore thanked the teachers for attending and dismissed them.