MATTHEWS – When Rita Josiah was introduced to the “Don’t Laugh at Me” anti-bullying program at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools workshop, she couldn’t stop thinking about how the teachers and students at Crown Point Elementary could benefit.
The Foundation for Respect Ability and Operation Respect, both nonprofits that help diminish different types of bullying in schools, have partnered together to introduce the program to Crown Point Elementary students. The program kicked off Monday, Sept. 16, with the foundation’s director of education, Sid Krupkin, visiting the school and using creative tactics such as music and videos to teach students about the importance of conflict resolution.
“We are one of three schools this year that was chosen for the grant,” Josiah, the dean of students at the school, said. “We don’t really have a lot of bullying problems here, but we have a lot of different cultures. We are teaching children to appreciate a lot of different cultures.”
After hearing a presentation by Diane Benson, one of the program’s directors, at a CMS-sponsored workshop, Josiah had to introduce the program to teachers at the school to help give leaders a better understanding of what bullying really is, she said. The staff was impressed, she added, and wanted to do the program with students.
The program will continue through the fall semester, where both nonprofits will meet with students in kindergarten through fifth-grade to encourage self-expression and help create an environment of respect and tolerance within the school community. The goal of the program is to establish an environment that reduces emotional and physical cruelty some children inflict on each other with bullying and sometimes violence.
Josiah said Crown Point has many international students – students from Hungary, Saudi Arabia and beyond.
“Our students are multi-culture, multi-race and multi-religious, as well,” Josiah added. “I call it a tossed salad. You enjoy the lettuce and the tomato. There is no particular part that you love more than the other.”
Josiah said she hopes the students will find a better understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures, all while feeling open to sharing and teaching about their own cultures and backgrounds. The school has talked about bullying in the past, but hasn’t had a specific program or curriculum in place, she said. She hopes the “Don’t Laugh at Me” program will give students a fresh, new perspective.