Comments from Schools Served

Here are comments from the community of teachers, administrators, students and funders who have experienced the difference that Community Matters' programs and services make.

An Ambassador reported that when she witnessed a new student sitting alone at lunch, she invited her to sit with her group of friends. The new student has since become friends with the group of girls. A 6th grade teacher reported that she witnessed one of her more popular students stand up for a classmate when a friend was making fun of him for his size. She was so surprised at the action that she was, at first , suspicious that the student was mocking the victim, but soon realized that it was completely genuine. I believe that the Safe School Ambassador Program trains students to think about those small actions they themselves can take in order to improve our school climate, while concurrently teaching them how to be thoughtful individuals and citizens."
Ellerbe May, At Risk Counselor, Manhattan Beach Middle School, Manhattan Beach, CA
I cannot express how fortunate we are to have had you help us launch this culture-defining work. The enthusiasm and wisdom and humor in the training have increased and focused our zeal! Safe School Ambassadors are not bully-proofing band-aids, but rather system-strengthening antibodies, creating health within themselves and spreading that wholeness to their peers. We are blessed to have worked with you and this program. We can create a vision now of how this work can proceed to grow across our campus. Thank you!"
Donette Swain, Principal, Oasis Elementary School, Twentynine Palms, CA
Our Waking Up Courage Assemblies went very well last week! We had a full house and even had the President of our school board in attendance, who is now encouraging other board members to attend future assemblies here in Redondo Beach. Your assembly presenter was able to engage our large audiences, and I appreciated the opportunity to consult with her to make minor modifications for each of the grade levels. The “Wall of Courage” was a hit too, and we have reassembled it as a display in our main hallway for everyone to enjoy and celebrate. Since the assemblies, there has been an uptick in counseling referrals to my office for students in conflict, and those who have been targets of harassment or bullying behaviors. The assembly has encouraged these students to speak up to their peers and parents about inappropriate behaviors they've noticed or experienced, and has opened the door to change. It's been great to be able to reference the upstander messages when I am in dialogue with our bystanders and aggressors. Thanks again for your support and communication in ensuring that our assemblies were a success!"
Brett Ploumen, Counselor, Adams Middle School, Redondo Beach CA
I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement with SSA at Clovis West High School. I have found this to be one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences in my career. As lead psychologist for the district, I have seen many programs come and go. I see this program as having “staying-power” and making long term impact in the lives of students. I have experienced this impact first hand, as we were able to interact and talk to the kids right after the training and their eyes were wide open. It is the kids who make the difference by advocating for change - the inside-out model works! In coordinating anti-bullying programs for the district for 2012-13, I am excited to advocate for the SSA program throughout our district."
Jonathan Logan, Lead Psychologist, Clovis Unified School District
I’ve noticed a huge decrease in fights and suspensions; overall we have a much more friendly environment on campus this year, thanks to our Ambassadors.”
Josh Novak, Counselor, Valencia High School, Valencia, CA
The kids had been holding their weekly class meeting and had pulled a note from the Suggestion Box that detailed a mean act that had occurred. The eight Safe School Ambassadors in that class came right up to the front of the room (unbidden) and immediately began to assign the various roles pertinent to the incident and work out the scenario!!! By the time I arrived, they were on the third scenario and I saw them perform two more. Then they turned to the rest of the class and said, 'Do you see what we've just done? You can do that, too. We don't have to put up with bullying and mean acts anymore.' This was one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen in my entire school career."
Connie Harrington, Principal, Meadows Elementary School, Manhattan Beach, CA
Being an Ambassador has given me the ability to stop bad things from happening to people. It shows me that I can make a difference in a lot of people’s lives."
Ambassador, Atlantic High School, Del Rey Beach, FL
In the beginning, I used to like to make fun of people, but when I saw how it can affect others I stopped and thought about their feelings. Now since we have the SSA group, we can make a difference in people’s perspectives of others. Every school should have this program, because one person can make a big difference.”
Ambassador, Stanford Middle School, Long Beach, CA
I had the opportunity to observe the Safe School Ambassador training that we funded and I was very impressed! The students were very involved and excited. I was also very impressed at how they were able to have fun and laugh but also took the subject matter seriously and were generally concerned about bullying and other issues on campus, and making a difference. I am very excited for this program. I think Community Matters is a wonderful resource and I look forward to seeing the impact the program and the students will have on their campus."
Amanda Quiralte, Member Services Coordinator, North Bay Schools Insurance Authority
This violence prevention program combines research-based practices and diverse youth leadership to build a caring school community. The Safe School Ambassadors demonstrated both simple and sophisticated techniques that engage them to stop potentially violent situations. They have learned skills that can profoundly affect their friends, their schools and their community, and they are excellent representatives of how youth can be an invaluable resource to our schools. I was particularly impressed by the students’ stories of how frequently they intervene in situations of verbal abuse, deliberate exclusion and bullying. It is clear that a trained cadre of Safe School Ambassadors can make widespread changes in the learning environment. Bullying and violence are powerful forces in our schools, but they can be overcome by the collective work of positive youth and adults when they are empowered by a program such as Safe School Ambassadors.”
Lynn Garric, Safe Schools Manager, Sonoma County Office of Education
I think that this is a great way to keep our school a safer place. Our students can now focus more on grades and schoolwork, rather than how people will make fun of them today, or who might try to hurt me physically or emotionally. It is such a great feeling of accomplishment knowing that you can help your school stay safe.”
Ambassador, Glen Edwards Middle School, CA
Don Shigekawa: Clear Creek Independent School District Don Shigekawa of Clear Creek Independent School District talks about the impact and results of implementing the SSA program
Impact of the SSA Program Safe School Ambassadors at Visitacion Valley Middle School, San Francisco, CA