Demonte Smith- VOLUNTEER | Not in Our Town

Demonte Smith- VOLUNTEER

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)


After being bullied for his small size and pitch of his voice, DeMonte Smith decided to join Safe School Ambassadors at his middle school to reduce the amount of bullying he saw at his school. Safe School Ambassadors, a program of Community Matters, uses the social skills of influential students to create positive change in schools.
This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies. You can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.
  • Self-awareness: DeMonte learns to manage his feelings of rejection after he was picked on for hanging out with girls and having a high voice. He realizes he did not need to let other people define him.
  • Self-management: DeMonte says, “Safe School Ambassadors changed me.” He learns to turn his negative experiences into a way to help others and change his view of himself.
  • Social awareness: The Safe School Ambassadors are aware of mistreatment among their peers and how to make a difference by turning peer pressure around and getting everyone to improve the school culture and climate.
  • Relationship skills: DeMonte says that he wants to help students feel they have somebody to come to if they need help. He also encourages other students to get involved.
  • Responsible decision-making: Students are trying to “help people now.”
1.  Prior to showing the video, briefly explain the primary themes of the video. Use some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt):
  • How are students influenced by other students? Can you think of some examples of negative influences? How about positive influences?
  • Why do you think some students bully others? Can you think of examples of bullying where a student was trying to impress his or her peers?
  • If one of your friends bullied another student to impress you, what could you do?
  • Have you ever heard students called gay or teased about not fitting into the stereotypes of a boy or girl?
  • What kinds of student leadership activities can change to make a school a place where everyone belongs?
2.  After watching the video, engage students in a dialogue about the film using some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt).
  • What are some problems that DeMonte Smith had to face at school? How did he overcome them? Do you see some of these issues in your school?
  • DeMonte Smith became a Safe School Ambassador and helped out many students who felt bullied.Would you ever consider becoming a leader who helps students who are bullied in your school? What are some things you could do?
  • One problem with bullying is that too many people become bystanders. How can you stand up against bullying like DeMonte did?
  • In the film, it states there is an increasing culture of “mean-spirited behavior.” Can you think of any examples of that in your school or in the world? Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
  • DeMonte states, “You guys should do this, its gonna be good for you.” He also said, “If I know I’m making a change, then I know I’m helping people.” How did he influence the other students? What change can you make?
  • What are some ways to make a more positive culture at school?
  • The film ends with the quote from the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things are not going to get better, they’re NOT!” What do you think that means? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Extension Activities
1. Have the students create a survey about the school climate and bullying at the school. Have them administer the survey and analyze the results. Brainstorm ways to shift the school culture to make it more positive. Divide into groups and try out some of the activities.
2. Do a research project on leadership. Identify the qualities of a good leader. Have students find examples of youth leaders. Make posters for the different leaders and indicate their positive leadership qualities.
3. Brainstorm the ways that peer pressure can influence students. Brainstorm ways to stand up to peer pressure. Have the students write stories about how to be strong in the face of peer pressure.
4. Learn more about how students are teased and bullied about being gay or when kids think they are gay. Go to the website and review some of the research. Find out ways that schools have worked to make campuses safe for all students and free from bullying or teasing about being gay. (This activity is for secondary students.)
Written by: Michael Ruiz and Becki Cohn-Vargas




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