Community Matters Blog

Read our blog posts below by Rick Phillips, Executive Director and other staff members, along with other content related to the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and school climate.

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It  - Part 3: Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In
December 8 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 3: Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In

Like most changes in life, even policy changes that have the potential to positively affect school climate will likely be met with at least some level of resistance. It just seems to be human nature to fear and resist change, so effective leaders need to learn to work with the resistance.

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 2: Climate Assessment
November 17 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 2: Climate Assessment

A school climate assessment is a step-by-step process that assists school leaders in determining what’s working, what’s not and what’s missing in their current climate efforts. Using a thorough analysis process provides the foundational information necessary for effective planning and implementation of the many climate mandates and initiatives that schools are expected to manage.

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice
November 3 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice

Once thought of as a second tier focus not on par with academics, school climate is now understood as a fundamental driver for effective learning to occur. Ensuring that a school is committed to having a positive climate starts with the leaders in charge valuing relationships and connectedness as the essential building blocks for developing a safe, positive and high performing school.

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It: A 5 Part Series
October 20 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It: A 5 Part Series

The good news is that there is increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of implementing school climate improvement plans.

The not so good news is that many administrators and line staff are experiencing overwhelm, frustration and confusion when dealing with the many requirements, mandates and top-down directives that they’re expected to address, all of which can lead to resistance and a significant diminishment in their likelihood of success.

To address both the opportunities and the challenges, we are presenting a five-part series of blogs to provide a clear and compelling climate roadmap for schools to use.

National Bullying Prevention Month: Five Key Actions for Making Schools Safer
October 6 2014

National Bullying Prevention Month: Five Key Actions for Making Schools Safer

As we recognize National Bullying Prevention Month, we can take heart in knowing that shifts are taking place and that many schools are committed to school climate transformation. While there is still much work to be done, more and more schools are taking positive actions to ensure that their students feel welcome, safe and connected.

Students Creating School Climate Improvement
September 18 2014

Students Creating School Climate Improvement

We know we can’t legislate civility nor can we punish children into being more tolerant. The only viable solution to the spread of the bullying virus on school campuses today is to change the social norms that allow it to occur.

7 Outside-the-Box Ideas to Help Fund Your School Safety & Climate Improvement Programs
September 8 2014

7 Outside-the-Box Ideas to Help Fund Your School Safety & Climate Improvement Programs

From the coming and going of the Title IV Safe & Drug-Free Schools funding to President Obama’s latest Now Is the Time initiative that’s partially directed towards school climate improvements, administrators have had to be creatively adept with their budgeting, cutting back in lean times, and cautiously expanding when external funding has become more available and fluid.

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate
August 11 2014

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate

Whether you’ve been waiting expectantly for the first day of school to begin - or you’re shaking your head thinking "Is it that time again?” - one of the first priorities that needs our attention as teachers and administrators is remembering how important it is for our students to feel that school is a kind, inclusive and safe place to learn and grow.

The Power of Community in Influencing School Climate
May 21 2014

The Power of Community in Influencing School Climate

Community as a determinant of school climate is one of the more indirect influences, but it is no less important. It is reflected in the emphasis that the community places on education, and on nurturing the educational and social-emotional well-being of its youth.

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem
May 9 2014

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem

With the widespread adoption of social media and smartphones by teens and even younger children, bullies have a new playground in which to inflict meanness on their targets: cyberspace.

School Climate and Student Empowerment
April 29 2014

School Climate and Student Empowerment

Students are 90% of a school population, yet they are often underutilized.  Adults often see students as consumers rather than contributors.  If students are part of the problem, we also know that they must be a part of the solution.  At Community Matters we believe that if we can harness their power and potential, we can begin to shift the climate from the inside out.

15 Years After Columbine: How Safe Are our Schools from Bullying and Violence Today?
April 15 2014

15 Years After Columbine: How Safe Are our Schools from Bullying and Violence Today?

Columbine shattered our long held belief that our schools are safe havens for our children. To re-establish our schools as places where all children can feel safe, welcome and included requires courage, leadership and the commitment of each one of us.

Partnering with Parents as a Strategy for Improving School Climate
March 31 2014

Partnering with Parents as a Strategy for Improving School Climate

How can we engage more parents in school climate efforts? Research shows that students from schools with positive climates demonstrate increased academic achievement and participation. And some of the greatest influencers of the school climate may not be coming through the doors everyday, in particular the students’ families.

How School Staff Can Improve Climate and Discipline
March 17 2014

How School Staff Can Improve Climate and Discipline

We now have enough evidence to know that when schools make climate a priority and the staff see themselves as educators and role models who make hall-friendly behavior their practice, schools can be safer places where effective teaching and learning take place.

Restorative Justice in Practice, Part 2: How to Get Started
February 25 2014

Restorative Justice in Practice, Part 2: How to Get Started

As we wrote about in Part 1, Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices stand as both a philosophy of discipline and an approach whose time has come.

Now Is the Time for Restorative Justice
February 12 2014

Now Is the Time for Restorative Justice

Despite the best efforts of our nation’s schools, bullying, harassment, hazing, and cyber-bullying are persistent and pervasive issues that impact far too many students. These issues compromise both teaching and learning, negatively affect children’s social and emotional development, take excessive staff and administrative time, and cause many school districts to fall short of achieving the educational outcomes they are charged to reach.

School Climate: the foundation for building safer and higher performing schools
January 23 2014

School Climate: the foundation for building safer and higher performing schools

School climate is a key pillar to achieving a safer and higher performing school. This is not news to educators who know that a nurturing, positive and safe environment is a requirement for students to learn and thrive in. The question that needs to be answered now is: How do we get there?

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch
January 6 2014

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch

I am writing this blog on the 13th anniversary of the first ever Safe School Ambassadors program ever launched. On December 13 and 14, 2000, three of our local high schools attended a two-day training conducted by Rick Phillips and Chris Pack for a brand new program they called Safe School Ambassadors (SSA).

Auditing Your School Climate: The First Step to Achieving Safer and High Performing Schools
December 5 2013

Auditing Your School Climate: The First Step to Achieving Safer and High Performing Schools

It’s no secret that the responsibilities of school administrators have increased significantly. Challenged every day to fulfill the core mandates of getting students to attend school, keeping them safe, improving academic performance, and achieving higher graduation rates, they also have to comply with ever-expanding laws and imperatives to address bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and discrimination. What we know is that all the above expectations can be best achieved by focusing first and foremost on School Climate. Click here to read the rest of the article...

5 Action Steps For Reducing Suspensions and Creating Safer Schools - Costs of Suspensions Part 2
November 26 2013

5 Action Steps For Reducing Suspensions and Creating Safer Schools - Costs of Suspensions Part 2

In Part 1 of our “The Costs of Suspensions” series, we looked at the rising use of out-of-school suspensions in districts all across the country. Establishing higher control procedures, instituting “zero tolerance” policies and increasing student suspensions has been a means to combatting relational aggression, violence and other disruptions in the school environment. But this “outside-in” approach is costing dearly. Click here to read the rest of the article...