This year HAFTR Middle School implemented the Olweus Bully Prevention Program. Last year, the HAFTR Olweus bully prevention coordinating committee, composed of administrators, support staff, teachers, and parents underwent an intensive two-day workshop given by a certified Olweus trainer.
This September, the committee provided an intensive one-day training for all HAFTR Middle School staff. Mrs. Yali Werzberger, HAFTR’s director of student services and school psychologist, is the program coordinator for the Olweus bully prevention program. She provided a comprehensive explanation of what Olweus bully prevention is, why it is so effective, and how it differs from other programs that schools use to prevent bullying.
Mrs. Jennifer Toscano-Phillips, BOCES school psychologist, discussed characteristics of students who bully and are victimized, as well as those who simply observe the bullying. Mr. Yeshaya Lieber, dean of encouragement, spoke about the school-wide level aspects of the Olweus Program. He analyzed positive and negative consequences to address bullying and presented HAFTR’s school rules against bullying. Ms. Rebecca Zweibon, HAFTR’s social studies teacher, discussed the classroom-level components of the program. She later met with individual teachers who will hold classroom meetings with their students throughout the year, which is instrumental in creating a sense of community and cohesion among students. Rabbi Avi Weber, Judaic studies teacher, taught teachers how to intervene with the individual students who bully or are bullied, and helped teachers practice intervening on the spot when they witness bullying. Lastly, Mrs. Estee Herskovics, BOCES social worker, stressed the importance of partnering with community organizations to help prevent bullying. She also discussed working with parents whose children bully others or are victims of bullying.
On Friday, October 12, HAFTR Middle School held a kickoff event to introduce the program to its students. At this assembly, the four Olweus “School Rules Against Bullying” were introduced through videos that students created. The videos were both fun and informative. A fifth rule, ve’ahavta le’reiacha kamocha (love your neighbor as you love yourself) was added, to help students understand that combating bullying is an integral part of Jewish beliefs. Each student was provided with a “band against bullying” bracelet at the end of the program. Students are now looking forward to beginning classroom meetings on bully prevention!