We have seen an increase in our society with the use of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. While there can be many great uses for social media, there are an alarming number of threats that need to be discussed with students. Whether it’s one of the “challenges” of the day like the "Momo Challenge," requires players (sometimes as young as five-years-old) to complete escalating tasks that are usually dangerous and involve self-harm. Other applications involve students taking and sharing inappropriate photos that students are unaware could haunt them for the rest of their lives. We need parents to step in and help us reinforce the proper use of mobile technology and social media accounts. If you allow your students to access the internet and/or have cell phones, I would ask that you take the time to discuss appropriate behavior and expectations with your student. We are currently teaching a sensitivity lesson to our ninth and tenth grade students to reinforce the consequences of social media misuse and appropriate behavior among our students.
I am also asking if you would take some time to encourage your students to read. Study after study shows that reading increases a student’s vocabulary, ability to write well, knowledge, reading ability and self-confidence. I love the following blog post: http://iserotope.com/parents-force-kids-read-20-minutes-night-else/. In it, Mark Isero encourages parent to take just 20 minutes per day to help their kids read. Read to them, have them read to you, and yes, reading can be a bit of a chore…. at first. Nevertheless, eventually, as the self-confidence grows, your student will become a better reader, speller, writer, and student overall. Then they will read for the joy reading can give them.
Finally, as educators, we are tasked with providing a safe and robust education for students. Part of our efforts in our school include embracing a program called Safe2Tell. I am confident that you will join me in agreeing that this program definitely complements our continual efforts to create safe spaces for children and youth to learn.
Safe2Tell is available free to all schools and communities across Colorado. It began in 2004 as an anti-bullying program in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. Since 2004, Safe2Tell has received over 45,000 anonymous tip reports alerting committed, caring adults to incidents of bullying, suicide threats, planned school attacks, substance abuse, mental health concerns, and a myriad of concerning behaviors.
Backed by Colorado State law, Safe2Tell serves as the main resource to share information between schools and law enforcement. The goal is to take this information provided anonymously, and intervene at the earliest possible point in the life a young person who is struggling. In doing so, this may not only save a life, but also prevent future acts of violence and other traumas.
The Safe2Tell model critically depends on the amount of awareness and education students, parents and community members have about the resource available to them. If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to check out their website www.safe2tell.org.
Thanks for all you do for our students. Thanks for all of your support for THE Branson School. We are blessed that you entrusted your students with us. We do not take that lightly and we will do everything we can to help every student become the best they can be.
Looking forward to a great year,