Pay It Forward - On Being a Safe School Ambassador

October 12 2017


  • Spencer Vogel, Safe School Ambassador Alumnus, Analy High School
    Spencer Vogel
    Safe School Ambassador Alumnus, Analy High School

“Hey, that’s not cool, how would you like it if someone treated you that way?” While that statement seems pretty simple, it is surprising how hard that can be for a student to say to their peers in a culture that, more often than not, allows bullying and harassment to go unchecked. What is even more surprising is that most of my peers want to do or say the right thing when they see a problem, but they don’t feel empowered or lack the training to intervene without risking themselves becoming targets as well. 

In a 2-day training I attended to become a Safe School Ambassador I was taught to Notice, Think and Act when I see bullying. It was the third week of senior year and I was in an upperclassman PE class. My PE class shared the same period as a freshmen class. There was a student in my class that always seems to egg students on, harassing people and promoting violence. We were all standing on the track getting ready to run a lap when I “noticed” that this upperclassman started to antagonize a freshmen boy for his long hair. The freshmen didn’t know how to respond to this, so he just stood there with a blank, sad look on his face. I decided that it was uncool for this to happen to anyone, so I “thought” about the Ambassador skills I learned and decided to “act” by using the “supporting” skill. I let the freshmen know that the other student does this kind of stuff all of the time, that it was not personal and others around us did not agree with it. I also told him, in front of the aggressor, that if he was continually harassed, he should let me know and I would see what I could do to help him solve the problem. The freshman was grateful for my help, while the antagonist seemed very annoyed by my intervening, at the same time he realized that continuing might create a bigger issue for him, so he stopped. Even though this intervention might seem small, it is not easy to stand up to aggressive people, but as an Ambassador I felt a sense of responsibility to act.

I am proud that I was selected from my peers as a leader to take a stand against bullying and mistreatment and serve as a Safe School Ambassador for three years in high school. The Safe School Ambassadors program is unique because it focuses on training students with skills to create a safer school climate and to safely intervene when we, the students, see problems occurring.

I have continued to use these lessons learned from Safe School Ambassadors, not just in class, but in my athletics as well. I have noticed that sports can be a place of constant tormenting. With Safe School Ambassadors teaching me what is right and what is wrong, I have been able to help my own teammates watch what they say more carefully. Safe School Ambassadors has not only helped me become a better person myself, but it has also helped me teach my classmates what is wrong and what is right to the best of my abilities.

Being a Safe School Ambassador has taught me to be a better person for not only my school campus, but the greater community as well. The skills that I have learned and used in my time as a Safe School Ambassador will stay with me throughout my lifetime.

Spencer Vogel is currently in his Freshman year in college, taking prerequisites for his RN degree.  He plans to work as an ER Nurse, where he can continue to help people in urgent situations.

Spencer has been serving as a volunteer Safe School Ambassador since his Freshman year at Analy High School in Sebastopol, CA. He is a 3 sport Varsity Athlete that has been in leadership positions on his teams.  As a natural leader, he felt that it was important to model positive behavior and kindness to his team and classmates.  His Program Advisor for the Safe School Ambassadors program said the following about Spencer: "He lives the practice, and manifests the values, and speaks up for others in the course of his regular life. If there is someone whose natural inclination was to be an ambassador it is Spencer Vogel."  Spencer is also the first recipient of the prestigious Rick Phillips Legacy Award to a graduating Safe School Ambassador.  The award has been established in honor of Community Matters’ founder and creator of the Safe School Ambassadors program, Rick Phillips.

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