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10/24/17 9:36am

Mattituck High School students openly bullied each other Monday morning — for educational purposes.

The students, members of the Students Against Destructive Decisions club, performed skits for third-graders at Cutchogue East Elementary School to illustrate bullying and demonstrate that ignoring it can be just as destructive. READ

01/20/14 9:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO |Beth Ann WIneberger with students in her first-grade class at Southold Elementary School.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO |Beth Ann Wineberger with students in her first-grade class at Southold Elementary School.

One New Year’s resolution in Beth Ann Wineberger’s first-grade class is to fill buckets every day, 20 buckets to be exact.

The small, plastic buckets hang from a bulletin board in her Southold Elementary School classroom. And they’re to be filled daily with notes marking the exchange of compliments, thank you’s and other displays of kindness.

“This one says, ‘Leni helped me put away my crayons,’” Ms. Wineberger said. “This one is from me: ‘Chloe helped others at snack time.’”

The classroom buckets are symbols that represent the balance of positive and negative feelings students experience and create in others. When a student’s bucket is full, it means both that he or she has performed acts of kindness, such as sharing, and is feeling the benefits of having done so.

In addition to seeing the students help one another build and maintain self-esteem, Ms. Wineberger said, the buckets create an atmosphere where the children are constantly encouraged to do nice things for others.

But what goes in can also come out. When people are nasty to one another, they are “dipping” into both that other student’s bucket — and into their own. The negative act depletes positive feelings on both sides. An empty bucket represents, and may very well lead to, low self-esteem.

According to the book “How full is your bucket? For Kids” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, from which Ms. Wineberger got the idea, a student with low self-esteem can become irritable and inclined to be mean to others.

When she explains to her students why it’s bad to be “dipper,” she’s also teaching them how not to be bullies.

“The strange thing was that every drop he helped put into someone else’s bucket, he received a drop in his own,” she said of the main character from the children’s book. “It’s very sweet. The more you do, the better you’ll feel about yourself.”

After lunch last Thursday, Ms. Wineberger recapped with her class the importance of bucketfilling.

“What does it mean to be a bucket dipper?” she asked 6-year-old Leni. “Hurting someone,” Leni said, after pausing to think about it. Before the teacher could praise her, Luca, 6, used the opportunity to be a bucket-filler. “Good job, Leni,” he said.

In addition to the classroom buckets, Ms. Wineberger also recently read to them Pat Miller’s book “Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution” because she wanted to use the seasonal tradition to reinforce her bucket program.

After each student wrote about how they planned to be a bucket-filler, they got their picture taken wearing Ms. Wineberger’s sparkly 2014 novelty glasses. The photos will be pasted above the students’ New Year’s resolutions.

“I’m going to keep finding ways to keep it going,” Ms. Wineberger said of the anti-bullying program.

Last school year, Ms. Wineberger introduced the bucket fi lling lesson plan in her kindergarten class. She described its fi rst run as a great experience, especially because she noticed that students became more comfortable with each other and displayed extra manners. Fellow teacher Lynn Shaffer has also adopted the program in her own class, she said.

Dennis Noncarrow, whose son was in Ms. Wineberger’s kindergarten class, said he believes her approach to education provides an inviting atmosphere for students to learn.

“She has an individual relationship with each student and gets to know them and their families,” he said. “Kids usually have anxiety starting school. My son didn’t have that and looks forward to school.”

Most of Ms. Wineberger’s nearly 20-year teaching career has involved kindergartners. This school year marked her introduction to teaching first-graders.

The transition has been interesting for Ms. Wineberger because she’s able to gauge how the bucket-filling program has affected her students, having now taught some of them two years in a row.

“They have risen to the occasion and they did a good job,” she said. “I feel good about myself. I’ve been bucket-filled, so to speak.”

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10/07/13 3:00pm
10/07/2013 3:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport High School principal Leonard Skuggevik presented Monday the district’s new anti-bullying program called Olweus.

The Greenport School District has launched a new program in which students will meet monthly to discuss anti-bullying methods.

Students gathered Monday morning in the auditorium where high school principal Leonard Skuggevik presented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a national program aimed at raising awareness about bullying.

Mr. Skuggevik said the North Fork Alliance funded the program and Greenport teachers have received Olweus training. All students in grades K-12 will meet once a month during their second period classes to go over the program and discuss how to handle real-life bullying situations. Second-period teachers will also act as anti-bullying mentors, Mr. Skuggevik said.

Although the district is pleased with the anti-bullying assemblies it has had over the past few years, including last year’s Rachel’s Challenge program, Mr. Skuggevik said he believes the new monthly arrangement will reinforce the anti-bullying message to students, because they will meet regularly to discuss the issue instead of only learning about it once a year.

The school remains focused on teaching students about the dangers of bullying, he said, even though the district has only experienced about a handful of incidents in recent years involving cyberbullying or confrontations between students.

“It’s something we want to be preventative about,” Mr. Skuggevik said after his presentation. “Just because we’re not getting a lot of it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making sure it doesn’t happen at all.”

During his presentation, Mr. Skuggevik told his personal story about how his family moved a lot when he was growing up and how difficult it was for him to attend five different high schools in one year. He then asked his students to not let a fellow classmate sit by himself or herself during lunch, explaining how he felt “horrible” in that situation not knowing anyone in a new school and having to sit alone.

Mr. Skuggevik also told students they will learn how to identify bullying through the program and asked students to reach out to an adult if they don’t feel comfortable confronting a bully themselves.

“You might think you’re just joking around with a friend by saying something to them all of the time and you think it’s funny because he laughs,” Mr. Skuggevik said. “Well, sometimes we laugh because we don’t want to cry.”

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09/06/12 2:00pm
09/06/2012 2:00 PM

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Brittney Longley gives Pulith Pieris a ribbon as part of last year’s anti-bullying project at Mattituck High School.

Bullies may have a more difficult time getting under the skin of their fellow students on the North Fork and across New York State this school year.

Educators hope that’s the result of the new Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which was signed into law by former governor David Patterson in 2010 but didn’t take effect until this summer.

The law requires school boards statewide to adopt a uniform set of guidelines for what constitutes harassment and discrimination and provide a clear chain of command within their schools for students and parents confronted with bullying. It also requires that parents be notified of the changes.

Most local schools plan to send information on the new law home with students in the upcoming weeks.

“It’s certainly something that warrants an ongoing dialogue on a number of fronts,” Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said at a recent school board meeting. “It’s pretty far-reaching. The premise is to ensure greater protections for various classes of students that, over time, have received harassment and discrimination. We must do things, educationally speaking, to prevent feelings of being mistreated.”

Each school within a district is required to name a dignity act coordinator, usually someone in the school’s guidance office, who receives and responds to complaints and reports them to the state, which is also now gathering more data on incidents of harassment.

The state requires that districts “maintain a climate of mutual respect and dignity for all students regardless of actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.”

The law requires districts to spell out disciplinary practices, which should be “measured, balanced and age appropriate,” in their codes of conduct, which will be sent home with students at the beginning of the school year.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, which came under fire from members of the African-American community several years ago for its lack of staff diversity, has engaged in several years of soul-searching to determine what it should do better for minority students.

The school has been working with students across grade levels to understand how students and teachers feel about discrimination.

Cutchogue East principal Anne Smith said at a recent school board meeting that she wants to engage fifth- and sixth-graders in discussions about what it means to be treated differently on the basis of factors over which one has no control.

“Harassment and bullying mean something entirely different to different students,” said board member Janique Nine. “Some students don’t even know when they’re bullying or being bullied.”

High school principal Shawn Petretti said it was important to remember that every instance of harassment has its own circumstances, which must be taken into account when meting out punishment.

“There’s no blanket way of handling different situations,” he said. “There are students who have been suspended, who have harassment on their behavior record. What’s accepted in the workplace? We’re trying to bring that expectation here. It goes beyond student on student. It’s also about how teachers and coaches talk. We need to make everyone aware of the tone they use with people.”

Mr. Gamberg, from Southold, agrees.

“We’re definitely going to create dialogue among teachers, and between students and teachers,” he said. “It goes without saying that as an educational community, it’s part of the process. If we handle that proactively, I don’t think we have any issues. Clearly, things are a matter of interpretation. People have to live by the golden rule. That should be the law of the land.”

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