There are 13,500 children in Glendale Elementary School District #40, Arizona, covering 16 square miles. It’s a diversified population. School bus rules are translated into multiple languages such as Spanish, Farsi, Arabic, French, Swahili, Nepali, Nigerian, and Karin.
This diverse community has a champion – a passionate administrator, Doris Bean, Manager of Transportation, who says ‘she is driven’ to help the kids. Bean applied for the 2015 United Against Bullying Grant and was awarded $3,500 for the development and implementation of an educational anti-bullying program. The grant enabled Bean to offer three very different events to her community in the 2016-2017 school year.
The first event was part of the Transportation In-Service week where bullying is part of the conversation on Student Management: how to recognize bullying, how to minimize, strategies, and impacts on students. Through the grant Bean was able to invite an international speaker, Azim Khamisa, to talk about restorative principles and how to help students learn and grow to become positive role models. He shared how he lost his only son to a senseless, gang-related incident and how he chose the path of forgiveness and compassion rather than revenge.
From left to right: Donna Webb, Azim Khamisa, and Doris Bean.
Through Azim’s passion to educate and inspire children, the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, named after his son, was established. Millions of children have now been helped through the Foundation. Bean shared, “We were grateful to have such a powerful speaker come to speak with our department before school start up. I really feel that Azim Khamisa touched everyone in one way or another and this was a wonderful way to start our school year.”
The ‘Parents and Students Meet the Teacher Night’ followed. For the first time, every one of the 17 elementary schools had a bus driven to their site by a transportation employee. They shared messages with thousands of parents and students about the Bully FREE zone on and around the school buses, making it fun for the students to learn about safety, and why the bus is built the way it is. Bean made 450 anti-bullying activity books and handed them out with crayons, printed material for everyone, 100 anti-bullying reading books, and one grand prize raffle per school.
With the last of the grant money, the Glendale Transportation Department is hosting a third event, ‘Love the Bus – No Bullies On Board’, February 14 at William C. Jack School. The maintenance crew will set up tables for about two hundred students for a hot breakfast, followed by anti-bullying and safety activities.
Invitations have been sent to Arizona’s major league mascots to come to the event. A shout out to Arizona Coyotes professional hockey team mascot, The Howler, who comes every year and makes the event one the kids remember.
Bean tells us that the grant money will be used to print material in color and gift all of the participating students with backpacks, folders, crayons, and pencils. A highlight of the event is playing the game, School Bus Search – Love the Bus. The students board the bus for a treasure hunt to find the answers to the questions on their sheet as they walk through. The best part is the way out. The students walk through to the back of the bus and are allowed to exit using the emergency slide.
Bean says it's all about collaboration. She cites how a partnership between her transportation department and the local Boys & Girls Club helped to increase after-school enrollment by 150% in the past three years. This equates to a lot of extra services and the opportunity every day for kids to learn to interact and get along. The Director of the Boys & Girls Club has his own bullying story, and now they work together helping kids get on school buses instead of walking, even adding extra stops.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Bean also points out that the language has changed from ‘not negative Nelly’ (catching negative behavior) to rewarding good behavior. The positive focus even has drivers watching out for kids that need food or shoes, making sure when they arrive at their stop that the usual person is there to meet them and if not, they take the student back to the school.
Seon, a Safe Fleet Brand, is pleased to unite against bullying with Bean and her transportation department. They bus 4,000 students a year and work together to identify bullies, to help kids being bullied, to help the bullies, to reward good ridership, and to keep kids safe. Bean is grateful for the grant and summarizes “Without this grant money from Seon and Safe Fleet our anti-bullying events would not have been possible.”
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To learn more about the annual United Against Bullying Grant Program, or to apply for the grant: unitedagainstbullying.net/grant