Summit schools hosted assemblies Monday to welcome Jerry Ackerman, a nationally recognized motivational speaker, to discuss the topic of bullying - what it is and, more importantly, how to avoid it.Ackerman, who travels through the U.S. giving speeches to students on various topics, started off his time in Summit County by holding a parent workshop on bullying in the morning. "At the school, we really need to partner with parents," said Joel Rivera, principal of Summit Middle School.Ackerman gave speeches at both the middle school and the high school later in the day. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of bullying, Ackerman highlighted the importance of a positive school culture of respect and ways to counter bullying activities even before they start."It's not 'here's how we don't bully,' but it's really an emphasis on 'here's how we treat each other,'" said Jim Smith, Summit High School's dean of students. "It all starts with respect and the culture and the climate. When a student walks through the halls of Summit High School they need to feel safe, they need to feel included, they need to feel respected. If any of those core components aren't in place, it affects their educational experience."Ackerman's speech had the students up and moving. At one point, he asked the entire 600-plus middle school student body to stand up and introduce themselves to someone they didn't know. The purpose, Rivera explained, was to give them an idea of community and fellowship, to have them recognize that person when they walk down the halls and identify them as friends."He knew his audience, he was funny, he was entertaining, he had kids getting up and moving around," Rivera said. "Our kids responded really well about that."The high school has implemented the Colorado Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Initiative (PBIS), which is one method of bullying prevention in schools. Rivera said that in addition to leadership classes and the Jump Start program, the middle school will be adding the PBIS program next year."It's all about understanding differences and how do you get along and how do you respect and understand (others)," Rivera said.
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