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updated: 12/3/2012 11:29 AM

St. Raymond School Announces Implementation of Innovative "Stand Tall" Anti-Bullying Program

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Bill Pinter

November 30, 2012--In response to the growing concern over the bullying that can occur at any school, St. Raymond School Principal Eileen Sullivan has announced that the Mt. Prospect school will be the first in Illinois and the first Catholic school in the U.S. to implement a new, innovative anti-bullying program called "Stand Tall."

Suzanne W. Peck, President of Peck Consultants, is the author of "Stand Tall: Lessons That Teach Respect and Prevent Bullying." Published in 2012 by Corwin, a Sage company, the book and DVD offer solutions and tools for teachers and students to prevent bullying in grades 4-6. Peck is appearing nationally on behalf of this work. She is serving on the Dean's Council at the University of California, Santa Barbara Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, which is supporting "Stand Tall."

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"There are many anti-bullying programs out there, such as "No Name Calling Week," "Mix It Up At Lunch," "It Gets Better," "Don't Laugh At Me," "Annual World Day of Bullying Prevention," said Peck. "'Stand Tall' is unique in three ways: One, it moves kids well beyond bullying awareness and teaches empowering solutions; two, 'Stand Tall' uses improv theatre games to teach students the skills to speak up in safe, constructive ways; and, three, it links the anti-bullying lesson plans to Common Core Standards for social studies, health, language arts, math, physical education and fine arts."

"'Stand Tall' is one of a kind," continued Peck. "It offers an innovative approach, based on positive psychology, for building the specific life skills students need to make smart choices. And yes, bullying has only intensified, especially with the rise of cyber-bullying, student suicides and litigation for harassment. What's more, bullying has a significant impact on the attendance, attention, participation, health, safety and academic performance of all the students involved."

"My goal is to prevent bullying from the classroom up by providing kids with the skills they need to build respect and deal with disrespect," said Peck. "After all, apart from a parent or care-giver, there's no better person than a teacher to influence student behavior. Over my many years experience teaching children and training thousands of adults about diversity, respect and communication, I've come to recognize just how very important it is for us all to learn how to speak up safely and constructively when offended. I've also discovered the very best way to teach this critical 21st century skill."

Sullivan said that the Archdiocese of Chicago had asked its schools to review their anti-bullying programs. She already had started up the "You Can't Say, You Can't Play" and "Have You Filled A Bucket Today" anti-bullying programs at St. Raymond this year. Randy Braverman, the school safety consultant, brought Peck's program to the attention of school administrators.

"Suzanne's 'Stand Tall' program fit perfectly with the other newly implemented programs at St. Raymond," said Sullivan. "Pre-K thru 8th grade will be working extensively with the "Have You Filled A Bucket Today" book by Mary Lou Mellon. The 'Stand Tall' program will provide a series of sessions that students (Pre-K thru 8th grade), faculty and staff will work through during the entire year. We will work to move the entire student body, faculty and staff to be "Upstanders" and not "bystanders" in bullying situations."

"We will have a close relationship with Suzanne as we continue to roll out her program," said Sullivan. "Suzanne and I have future plans for St. Raymond and other Catholic schools. I have enjoyed working with her. She is a very talented and hard working person who is dedicated to her vision."

Peck's "Stand Tall" program is currently being used district-wide in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito, California public schools. The schools first began implementing the program in April. Peck reports that students are excited about the improv games which provide a safe environment for building students' confidence and skills as they learn how to speak up and handle tough situations. She said that teachers have found the Ancestor Detective lesson plan, in particular, a great way to fulfill social studies, math and language arts requirements. Teachers, she said, also like the way it reinforces lessons and at the same time imparts key messages about respect.

"I'm very excited about the way 'Stand Tall' links with lessons from the Bible," said Peck. "So many of the saints were 'Upstanders.' St. Raymond students have already incorporated into Morning and Afternoon Prayers 'Stand Tall''s Upstander concept, as opposed to being a bystander when others bully or harass. St. Raymond is implementing 'Stand Tall' as a whole school initiative that leverages the power of faith and prayer. I find this tremendously inspiring and gratifying."

Peck said that the cost of implementing "Stand Tall" at a school "is quite small, especially when compared to the return." She said that "Stand Tall" is a resource Grades 4-6 teachers will refer to repeatedly so each teacher needs his or her own Teacher's Manual and DVD. She said that professional development sessions for teachers and school staff may also be scheduled.

"My goal is to have a transformative impact in schools nationwide," said Peck. "I hope to get 'Stand Tall' into classrooms across the country. As best I can see, there's no better way to build respect for differences, the skills to resolve conflicts, and the courage to speak up safely in disrespectful situations."

Peck consults with executives of Fortune 500 companies on managing diversity for competitive advantage. Her work involves development of diversity and inclusion strategies, employee and customer research, facilitation of diversity councils, design of company-specific diversity, workplace respect and harassment prevention educational programs, training and executive coaching. She is a faculty member of the Media Management Center, the executive education program at Northwestern University that is jointly sponsored by the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the Medill School of Journalism. Peck's experience includes 18 years as a Principal and Diversity Practice Leader of Towers Perrin, where she managed the Human Resources and Communication line of business for the Chicago office. Peck received her degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University.

Named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2009, Saint Raymond School, as a parish elementary school (Pre-K though 8), is an integral part of the Faith Community of Saint Raymond de Penafort in Mount Prospect, Illinois. As Christian educators, Saint Raymond School encourages its young people to pursue excellence to their greatest level spiritually and academically, morally and socially. For more information, call 847-253-8555 or visit www.st-raymond.org.

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