Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012, 3:20 pm
Bullying: Are politicians modeling for our students?
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By Ray Bergles, Silvis schools superintendent
The Silvis school district held a Bully-Free Day on Oct. 29. Staff members, including counselor Michelle Johnson, music teacher Shawn King, aide Tammy Valdes and a host of others put together a program for all Silvis students designed to give support and answers so students can take the lead if they see bullying.
Bullying has been an issue in schools forever, and schools in our area have been pro-active in meeting it head on. Our counselors, teachers and administrators have worked hard to make every day "Bully-free" by punishing bullies, counseling those bullied and trying to model appropriate behavior each and every day.
As I see it, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the poor adult modeling our students see and hear countless times each and every day on television, radio and the Internet.
The politicians (especially national), who have required school districts to put so much effort into quelling inappropriate behavior, are among society's biggest bullies. The political commercials were extremely nasty toward the opposition, and who wasn't sickened by them?
If adults are aghast at much of the content, think of how 3- to 15-year-olds perceive them. As an old government teacher who worked hard to get students involved in the political process, I'm saddened at young people turning off politics today.
I remember two politicians who were extremely positive in their interactions with my students. One class was lucky enough to meet 1980 presidential candidate Ronald Reagan on the O'Hare tarmac in Chicago.
He came off his plane and immediately greeted students, taking two to three minutes with each of them, offering all positives.
Congressman Phil Hare spoke to Silvis Junior High students four to five years ago, and fielded a "loaded" question from a student "What do you think about President Bush?"
He said "we should always respect the office a person holds, no matter what." Both men modeled behavior we strive to see in young people. Why can't we see more of that today and in the future?
Silvis Teacher Spotlight: Gail Staples
First-grade teacher Gail Staples is retiring at the end of the school year after 36 years of service. Mrs. Staples has taught special education as well as first grade, and was named a Dispatch-Argus Master Teacher in 2005.
Her dedication to her students and George O. Barr has been unmatched.
Besides successfully instructing 20 to 25 children on the basics of reading, she publishes a colorful "First Grade Times" weekly newsletter for students and parents. Mrs. Staples serves on several school committees, was a pioneer in the use of interactive technology, a mentor to new staff members and student teachers and attends all evening activities, such as math, science and reading nights.
She is an avid reader, practicing what she preaches.
Gail Staples has been a wonderful teacher to so many Silvis students. It's awesome how many of her former students sing her praises and come back to seek advice or help in her classroom. She will be missed.
Ray Bergles is superintendent of the Silvis School District.