Photo by Sam Farmer.
0814 Melody Greene
Melody Greene is the assistant superintendent for Hoover City Schools. Greene, along with her intervention team, is planning school-wide initiatives to raise awareness about bullying and other related issues.
When it comes to bullying, Melody Greene is focusing her efforts where she can — on intervention.
Last year, Hoover City Schools participated in a pilot program called First Response Bullying. As part of the effort, hotline numbers were displayed prominently on posters distributed throughout the school system, and students were encouraged to anonymously report incidents.
By the end of the school year, First Response Bullying efforts resulted in three phone calls.
“Not to diminish the value of those calls, but districtwide, I don’t feel like that was an effective way to deal with bullying,” said Greene, adding that the district tried the system upon request from the Alabama State Department of Education.
This year, Greene is working closely with administrative leaders across the district to take intervention efforts further. Later this month, the system will host two sets of community outreach meetings for parents at Hoover and Spain Park High Schools. The August meetings will focus on “Your Child and Social Media,” covering everything from how kids become involved to social media misuse, including bullying, sexting and other behaviors that can lead to felony offenses.
“Our goal through these meetings is to provide a nonthreatening atmosphere where parents can learn and ask questions,” said Greene. “The purpose is to identify crises as early as possible so we can intervene with help for the student and resources for the family.”
With six full-time licensed social workers (one at each high school, one at Crossroads and one at each of the system’s three middle schools), Greene and her team are focused on cutting the behavior before it escalates.
“Most bullying in our system never gets past the teacher because it is dealt with in a parent-teacher conference or in a conference involving the school’s administrator,” said Greene.
Reported incidents are first flagged at the district level. Once they are made aware, Greene and her staff work directly with the administration of the affected student(s) until the matter is resolved.
“We may have five students at different times come complain about the same student, and that can help us target the problem,” said Greene. “We also may have students who appear to be the victim and then turn out not to be. We see it all. Our philosophy remains the same: Punitive measures are only temporary. We enter these situations open-minded and with the shared goal of empowering those involved to change their behavior.”
The district deploys all available tools, including a no-contact clause between the involved students, counseling with the students and their legal guardians, administrative monitoring as needed, and in rare cases, revised class schedules. Further measures, including reassignment to Crossroads School or escalation to local law enforcement, may be used as necessary.
“Apart from what we can do during school hours, there is another vital part of preventing bullying and other types of aggressive behavior,” said Greene. “I want parents to feel empowered to question their children. Check their cell phones. Check their iPads. And turn to us. I feel like parents fear that the school will be judgmental toward their parenting when kids don’t behave appropriately, but guess what? Every one of our schools is made up of parents.”
For more information, visit hoovercityschools.net.