not in our school | Not in Our Town

not in our school

With daily news reports about the devastating impact on students who have been relentlessly bullied, teachers find themselves on the front line in addressing bullying and intolerance. It is time to move into action. Not In Our School offers solutions-based strategies and tools for change to a network of schools that are working to create safe, inclusive and accepting climates.
We are seeing a tidal wave of concern about the prevalence of bullying everywhere. What can each of us do? Be an upstander.
One of our videos was just featured by Upworthy! Check it out and join us in taking the pledge to stand against bullying, bigotry, and hate.     Watch the video and contribute to the lively conversation at Upworthy's Facebook post and sign the Not In Our Town pledge!  
When I became a Junior at Soledad High School in 2011, I realized two things: time was running out, and I needed to do something to distinguish myself for college. Therefore, in order to stand out, I looked to personal experience: bullying. Little did I know that what started as a silver lining for my college application would change my life, and make me recognize that extending one’s own moral determination would be just as fulfilling as getting a higher education.
In preparation for reading Farhana Zia’s The Garden of My Imaan, a lovely young adult novel about an American Muslim girl named Aliya, my students and I wrote down what we knew about Muslims. I teach in a public middle school where the majority of students are white and Christian, so I expected a steep learning curve. I encouraged all the students to write down their thoughts and ideas and to be open and honest about their thinking. Sometimes I would chime in and contradict incorrect ideas, but mostly I would just record student thoughts on the whiteboard as they recorded their thoughts on our worksheet.
On Oct. 17, 2014, Aquil Rasheed, an Oakland teacher and NIOS activist gave a Not In Our School Trainer-of-Trainers workshop, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to teams of students and their teachers from 20 schools in northern Michigan. At the session, students were introduced to the ideas of bullying and intolerance and learned ways to be upstanders, people who stand up and speak up for themselves and others to stop harm from being done. Here he shares about his experience at the Traverse City Anti-Bullying Conference.
By Ilana Fonariov "I really wanted to see a change in my school site where there was a lot of bullying and name-calling happening. Issues included low self-esteem, teasing, and girls getting mocked for dressing like tomboys," said Jasmine Frye, the student support specialist for an after-school program at an east Oakland elementary school, located in a low-income Latino community. She came to the school by-way of Bay Area Community Resources and Americorp, right after completing her sociology degree at UC Davis. Her school is located in an area with high rates of violence and crime in an underserved community where liquor stores outnumber the grocery stores. The school is the main resource site for children of the area.“I've seen a lot of kids who've seen someone shot in front of them, seen a lot of negative things and that definitely impacted their lives and the way they address things,” she said.
Join us this weekend for the National Leadership Gathering in Billings, Montana to engage with active community leaders about making our towns and schools safe and inclusive. Featuring film screenings, workshops, events, and panel discussions, the National Leadership Gathering is a great opportunity to learn positive community action and bring it back to your town! At our last National Leadership Gathering in 2006, youth leaders came together to share their efforts to make their schools more accepting. Their work and spirit of collaboration embody what it means to be an upstander. Find their discussion in this short video.  
Video: Oak Ridge Paints Over Pain The community in Oak Ridge, TN, recently came together to use art to speak up against bullying. The activity, called Paint Over Pain, brought in community members ranging from young children to recent high school graduates to paint powerful messages of hope in the face of bullying. The video features many art pieces created during the activity as well as messages such as, “Be yourself,” “Silence is acceptance” and “You are not alone.” Valerie Hughes launched Not In Our Town in Oak Ridge after her daughter was assaulted in a classroom. Her efforts with Not In Our Town promote a safe and welcoming community for people of all backgrounds. Hughes coordinated this event in Oak Ridge, will be leading a Paint Over Pain activity at the Not In Our Town National Leadership Gathering later this month. Watch the entire video here.  
Lockhart Elementary School teacher Joanne Saunders has worked tirelessly to help the students in her school take action to both prevent violence and bullying and to create kindness. We learned about Joanne’s great work in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands, through Not In Our School’s Facebook page. We thought it would be wonderful to create an interchange between Lockhart School and Duveneck school in Palo Alto, CA, where Not In Our School (NIOS) activities have also been expanding. We were thrilled to hear the partnership has begun and continues. Read how one school proactively is addressing ways to reduce youth violence. Their Facebook page tells the wonderful story of their efforts. —Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director By Joanne E. M. Saunders