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Anti-bullying event at PS/IS 180 the SEEALL Academy, Brooklyn

Focusing on ‘respect’
New York Teacher

Sciacca with 7th-graders and their “respect” poster.

Sciacca with 7th-graders and their “respect” poster.

Focusing on respect
Jonathan Fickies

Students spell out the word RESPECT.

Rosanna Giannuzzi, a 5th-grade teacher at PS/IS 180 the SEEALL Academy in Borough Park, Brooklyn, knows her students are on the brink of big changes in their lives. “The 5th grade is a transitional phase,” she said. “That’s when the name-calling and making fun of something or someone can happen.” But Giannuzzi and her colleagues have a way to steer students in another direction: a schoolwide anti-bullying initiative that fosters a culture of respect and kindness before problems begin. Activities include setting classroom goals, posters that promote kindness, a grab bag of gifts to reward students who model good behavior, bracelets that remind students of the common goal and schoolwide discussions on a theme, which this year is “respect.” “We put a positive spin on it,” said Rosemary Sciacca, a guidance counselor who organizes activities to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Awareness month in October. The discussions focus on why respect is “important in the community, in school, with your parents and each other,” she said. Each classroom posts goals for the year that promote sharing and consideration of others. Every grade also is given the opportunity to spell out the year’s theme, which is photographed for the school yearbook. The event “helps the children become more considerate of each other and of teachers and parents,” said Chapter Leader Lynette Azar. Students are rewarded with a ticket for a snack or another small gift when they’re caught in the act of sharing with others, speaking kindly to a classmate or helping someone who is struggling. “The campaign gives the school a common language,” said Giannuzzi. “And by doing it at the beginning of the school year, it gives us something to refer to throughout the year.”

Related Topics: BRAVE