Foundations School Community Announces the Launch of a Landmark Anti-Bullying Curriculum for Fall, 2008

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Effective with the Fall, 2008 semester, Foundations School Community, a private progressive kindergarten-through-middle school in Van Nuys, will offer an unprecedented “anti-bullying” curriculum that focuses on prevention of the problem rather than dealing with its unfortunate aftermath.

It’s so rewarding to see all the school’s graduates doing so well, whether they’ve chosen an academic school like Harvard-Westlake or LA County High School for the Arts. It confirms what we’ve known all along, that our unique approach to education for elementary and middle school students is working.

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In an effort to address the skyrocketing problem of bullying in modern classrooms, Foundations School Community (http://www.foundationsschool.com) School Director Sheri Werner announced today that effective with the Fall, 2008 semester, Foundations School Community, a private progressive kindergarten-through-middle school in Van Nuys, will offer an unprecedented “anti-bullying” curriculum that focuses on prevention of the problem rather than dealing with its unfortunate aftermath. The curriculum, developed and taught in a series of workshops by Ms. Werner, is designed to instill positive feelings of respect and courtesy in students from kindergarten through grade 12.

The Southern California Center of Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention at the University of California-Riverside defines bullying as follows: “A student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students.” Such negative actions generally occur in one or more of three forms: physical (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing), verbal (e.g., taunting, name calling), and psychological (e.g., intimidation, spreading rumors, social exclusion). Boys are bullies more often than girls and generally bully other boys, tending most often to use physical force or threats. Likewise, girls typically bully other girls but tend to do so verbally and indirectly more often than physically.

Results of a national survey conducted in 2001 showed that eight percent of students ranging in age from 12-18 reported they had been bullied in the last six months (U.S. Department of Education, 2003), up from five percent in 1999. Younger students were generally more likely to be bullied than older students. Fourteen percent of students in the 6th grade reported being bullied compared to only two percent of 12th grade students who reported being victims of bullying (U.S. Department of Education, 2003).

Long-term consequences for bullies are significant. Children identified by age 8 as bullies are 6 times more likely to commit a violent crime by the time they are 24 and 5 times more like by age 30 to have a serious criminal record.

Foundations School Community, founded in 1994 by a group of parents and educators who shared a dream for a new kind of school that offered every child a way to maximize his or her potential, forge close bonds with teachers and foster a love of learning and a desire to make a difference in the world, is now the only kindergarten-through-middle school progressive private school in the San Fernando Valley. Using progressive educator John Dewey’s teaching as a model, Foundations School Community has successfully created an atmosphere where students are empowered now just by learning from books but also by actively doing things that make an impact on their own lives and the lives of others.

“Almost every week there is a story in the news about a bullying incident that ended badly, and I felt strongly that there was a way to prevent the problem before it occurred by putting in place an ongoing anti-bullying curriculum to prevent the issues that lead to bullying at every level of a student’s education,” Ms. Werner noted. “In order to enable students to learn in a safe environment free of fear, insecurity and isolation, classrooms must be structured so that students are encouraged to freely and openly share their feelings without being criticized or laughed at and learn to listen to others with an open mind.”

Special emphasis will be placed on the role of Foundations School Community’s teachers in helping students learn how to avoid bullying and being bullied. Specifically, elementary and middle school teachers will be expected to help children by modeling how to speak respectfully to students, avoid criticizing or “putting down” children, deal with misbehavior calmly and without speaking angrily to students and facilitate problem-solving discussions around this issues.

Ms. Werner has been with Foundations School Community since 1995. She
worked with a partner to found and build the school from 14 students and one class to its current size of 85 students. In 2001 Ms. Werner founded Foundation School Community’s middle school and continues to provide the leadership and vision for the school’s future. “It’s so rewarding to see all the school’s graduates doing so well, whether they’ve chosen an academic school like Harvard-Westlake or LA County High School for the Arts. It confirms what we’ve known all along, that our unique approach to education for elementary and middle school students is working.” Sheri holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies, an M.S. in educational psychology and counseling, as well as a PPS Lifetime credential for grades kindergarten through12.

For more information regarding this innovative curriculum or to schedule an anti-bullying workshop, please contact Foundations School Community (http://www.foundationsschool.com) at 818-786-1997 or by e-mail at office(at)foundationsschool.com

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