This week we engaged in our parent teacher conferences, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I heard from many parents that they appreciated the specific information they received about their child’s academic and social progress, and I also heard from the teachers how much they valued the time getting to connect with the parents. I also enjoyed stopping in and getting a “snapshot” of individual kids, and I want to thank everyone for their active participation in the process.
One recurring comment I heard during the two days was a concern about bullying, both active bullying on the yard or sports field, and the quiet bullying that is not so evident. I find it very interesting that while I am hearing discussion about this on campus, yesterday in Washington D.C. national leadership was having a summit on this very topic. The president and first lady Michelle Obama convened a conference on preventing bullying, seeking to shine a spotlight on an issue that affects millions of young people each year. More than 150 students, parents and educators gathered at the White House to discuss with the Obamas and administration advisers ways they can work together to make schools and communities safer.
Speaking as both a parent and the president, Barack Obama told young people that they shouldn't have to accept bullying as an inevitable part of growing up. "If there's one goal, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage," Obama said.
"As adults, we can lose sight of how hard it can be sometimes to be a kid," Obama said. "It's easy for us to forget what it's like to be teased or bullied, but it's also easy to forget the natural compassion and the sense of decency that our children display each and every day when they're given a chance."
The White House says one-third of the nation's students, or 13 million children, have been bullied. The issue has gained increased attention in recent years in part because of the impact of new technologies like Facebook and Twitter, and because of high-profile coverage of young people who have committed suicide after being bullied. While our national leadership is focused on this important issue, I want you to know that our administrative team at Stephen S. Wise is also looking into this, and we are committed to making sure that all of our students learn and grow in a safe environment. We are fortunate to have two school counselors, Norma Freeman and Jana Zawatsky, who are key players in the process of developing our school culture. In addition, our teachers and staff are aware of this important issue, and we will continue to work with individual students, groups of kids and our overall community to make sure we take care of one another and always focus on celebrating what’s right.