WHAT POLICIES WOULD YOU PROPOSE TO SUPPORT STUDENT LIFE?
The quality of students’ well-being is incredibly important. As a school district, we need to focus on solving the problems that affect our children in and around schools. Bullying and student safety are among the biggest issues that the school board needs to address. The Alpine School District has general policies related to bullying that are not effective and not universally applied. Bullying has been a significant problem in Alpine schools for years. I have spoken with dozens of parents in the community and a significant number have removed their children from Joan MacQueen Middle School because of bullying, going back as far as 2016. Our district does not employ nor has it implemented any effective anti-bullying practices that include appropriate consequences. There are “policies” related to bullying, but there appears to be no real consequences for bullying or harassing behavior for offending students. This is evident in recent feedback that I have received from Alpine parents. The school board and superintendent need to articulate clear standards and use consistent disciplinary practices to eliminate bullying. There should be a very clear zero-tolerance policy for bullying that is universally enforced. As a former principal, I also find it challenging that our school board has hired a principal for Joan MacQueen Middle School that has no experience as a principal, especially given the bullying and decline in enrollment in our district. Our middle school needs insightful and experienced leadership at a time when students are leaving our school district because of bullying and discrimination.
- Over the last several years we have updated many of our Board policies to ensure that there is no tolerance for bullying. In fact, all of our schools adopted the No Place For Hate curriculum, and lessons are taught across each school and grade level. Through a range of school-wide, discussion-based, and active-learning activities, our students and staff examine real-world issues, reflect on biased behavior and learn new ways to challenge bias and bullying in themselves, others, and society. Vaping is unfortunately all too common with our youth and our District has taken a proactive approach to counter this problem including educating our students and families on the dangers of vaping and working closely with our law enforcement to form bridges with our students. Our District has provided presentations and assemblies to students and parents from individuals such as the District Attorney to members of Teen Truth who connect with our students in different formats. • We are lucky that our District is able to offer a range of extracurricular programs to our students. Our middle school students have a strong and vibrant after-school sports program that takes place throughout the year. Our engineering program, which has won many national awards, participates in contests and challenges after school and on the weekend. With the opening of the new JMMS Feld, our students will have a range of many new options to participate in extracurricular offerings.
A strong campaign educating our students on the benefits of not vaping or using drugs starting at the Elementary School level is important. Much like the red ribbon week program at other elementary schools. This program talks about the negative effects of vaping and the consequences of drug use. At the middle school level, inviting guest speakers to talk about recovering from addiction and the benefits of not using drugs and why. It would be helpful to have these speakers be peers or relatable people who our students are open to learning from. My youngest child experienced bullying and once she was given the tools to speak up for herself and overcome the fear associated with bullying, she was able to stop the bullying. I think both the bully and the person being bullied need to be taught how to change their behavior. I would like to see our school district create a community garden where students can come together and nurture and develop food for our community. It would also be beneficial to create an organics program where students can learn about the importance of recycling and creating compost for the garden from food waste. A “See Something, Say Something” program would also be beneficial because it encourages students to speak up in a safe and confidential way.
We currently have an anti-bullying program. We make an extra effort, especially in our middle school, to support those kids and the challenges that they face every day. We have a large number of extracurricular activities and after school programs including sports programs, a nationally recognized engineering program. We also provide an educational foundation to support children in summertime with two weeks of additional math and science training. We do that through the Alpine Foundation for Learning.