FALLBROOK – Distraction, balancing, supporting, reasoning, active listening, and asking for help are techniques that a diverse group of seventh and eighth grade Potter Junior High School students learned during a two-day Safe School Ambassador training on Sept. 12 and 13. Students are empowered to use these tools when they are interacting with their fellow classmates to stop mistreatment and create a positive school climate.
Potter Junior High is in their second consecutive year implementing this program, including 58 students and 15 adult “family group leaders” composed of teachers, school counselors, campus supervisors, administrators, and parents.
Safe School Ambassadors take an “inside-out” approach, believing students have the power to peacefully interject in many situations when they see bullying and harassment among other students. Teachers and staff alone cannot solve these problems, and the Safe School Ambassador Program is one piece of a school-wide effort to engage students as part of the solution. Additionally, all schools within the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District are implementing the Safe School Ambassador Program this year.
The training, funded through a multi-year grant through San Diego JPA, was full of hands-on activities for the students to grasp these new ideas and put their newly learned skills into action. Team building was emphasized throughout the training to bring cohesiveness among the students and adults. Returning students who participated last year also provided advice to new ambassadors. Eighth grader Riley Sullivan shared that her favorite part of being an ambassador is, “through helping others, I also feel good about myself.”
Going forward, these student ambassadors are meeting with the family group leaders, who have volunteered their time to continue mentoring and supporting students. They will be discussing any mistreatments they have seen, how they were able to intervene, and ways to work together to help make the school a safer place.