Mat-Su Borough School District would like to thank the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman for its efforts in working with the district to help educate our community on school bullying. The Mat-Su Borough School District is currently taking important steps to further our zero tolerance for bullying in our schools.
As superintendent of the Mat-Su Borough School District I can assure you that it is our school board's goal to make every student successful. To accomplish such an important goal, it requires a commitment from every single district employee to make school a place of joy.
As a district, we dedicate extensive professional development resources for our teachers and staff members. Providing each employee the tools to educate, prevent and respond immediately to the varying types of bullying that may occur in schools helps change student behavior.
Most recently, all of the district's 44 schools received training from Randy Sprick of Safe and Civil Schools. Dr. Sprick is the country's leading expert in the area of school climate. Sprick's CHAMPS and Secondary Discipline have been the curricula guiding our schools to bolster their school climates. Using research-based strategies, schools are able to build the necessary foundations of improving student behavior. It is important that students know the expectations in terms of behavior when they arrive at school, during transitions between classes, in the lunchroom, at recess and during class time.
Parents and community stakeholders may hear teachers and principals discussing changing school climate and helping students be in class on time, prepared with necessary supplies, and staying on-task. One positive behavior intervention support strategy is known as CHAMPS. District-wide, this strategy helps teachers in schools improve classroom behavior, establish clear classroom behavior expectations and motivate students to put forth their best efforts.
The letters in the acronym CHAMPS stand for conversation, help, activity, movement, participation and success.
To measure how we are doing in the area of school climate, the district is participating in the Alaska State School Board's School Climate Survey during the first two weeks of February - all students in grades five through 12. The survey collects a baseline of data to share with community stakeholders. The data will also provide the district with critical information that will help guide our continued professional development.
In this year's strategic plan, the MSBSD School Board has equity as one of its goals. Therefore, equity is one of the components of district professional development. Two nationally recognized presenters/trainers are working with principals and teachers throughout this school year. Two of the strategic goals of the equity professional development are:
1. Developing culturally responsive guidelines for the district.
2. Raising awareness and implementing the guidelines to ensure that we are culturally responsive to all students.
Without question, the Mat-Su Borough School District makes the safety of our children our No. 1 priority. Bullying has no place in Mat-Su schools. Eliminating this behavior requires vigilance by all educators, students, parents and community members. We invite families and community leaders in the Mat-Su Borough to help our schools become the very best in the country.
Deena M. Paramo is superintendent of the Mat-Su Borough School District.