Thursday, June 7, 2012

Georgia Power Foundation grant of $10,000 supports anti-bullying program in schools

Photo: Bill Schoepski, special education consultant, Ann Kaiser,manager of northwest region for Georgia Power, and Dr, Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools form a partnership to stop bullying. 
Media release: A Georgia Power Foundation $10,000 grant presented by Ann Kaiser, manager of northwest region for Georgia Power to Dr. Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools, will give students and teachers a new weapon in the battle against bullying in schools.  In the past few years, news reports of bullying and the problems this behavior has created for children and families has made the issue a national concern. "This grant makes Georgia Power a partner with Floyd County Schools to put a stop to bullying behavior in our schools," stated Dr. Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. "Georgia Power is a valuable community partner in educating our children and impacting the quality of life in Rome and Floyd County."  Kaiser added, "Georgia Power is committed to improving the quality of life in our communities so this is a natural issue for us to be involved in as it directly affects our employees, their families and our community."

The funds will be used to train and establish a safety team at each school in the Floyd County school system to increase recognition of bullying, the reporting of bullying instances and provide children with the tools to stop bullying at the source.  The center piece of the school system's plan for the grant funds is to bring in Michael R. Carpenter, PhD to train teachers and system personnel.  Carpenter is a violence, drug, and student assistance program consultant who has worked extensively with school systems in Georgia.  Carpenter has worked with Cobb County Schools for more than twenty years and assists the Department of Education and Human Resources as a consultant across the country and abroad.  He is the founder of the Prevention Intervention Center of Cobb County Schools.   

School counselor Dr. Lisa Drake and Special Education consultant Bill Schoepski have teamed-up to address the problem of bullying in Floyd County Schools.  The overall goal of the program will be to develop a systematic, procedural plan with accountability measures built-in to reduce bullying in our schools.  Drake has researched the connection of bullying to suicide in the youth population and she feels the program will help prevent the escalation of bullying issues to a child contemplating suicide.  "We understand from research that bullying is a risk factor for suicide so we want to have a proactive approach in dealing with the problem," stated Drake.       

The training will create teams at each school to stop bullying by encouraging children to stand up and speak out against bullying.  Schoepski said, "The training will help to identify real bullying, encourage others to not join in and support the bully, calm the situation, offer support to the person being bullied and if the support does not help to tell a grown-up."  The program will also provide training to help children deal with a bully.  Drake said, "The training encourages children to first ignore or walk away from the bully." She added, "If that does not work they are to tell the bully to stop being a bully, get a friend to help to decrease the bully's feeling of power, and if all else fails, tell a grown-up."  Common forms of bullying are: physical bullying - hitting, shoving, kicking, breaking someone's belongings, giving mean looks or making threats; verbal bullying - teasing, lying to get the victim in trouble, name calling or taunting; social bullying - ignoring or excluding the victim, encouraging others to dislike the victim, spreading rumors and gossip; and cyber bullying - using technology to harass, threaten, spread gossip, or even impersonate someone else.  

The Georgia Power Foundation is an independent legal entity providing grants to organizations that are enriching the communities served by Georgia Power. According to the website, since its inception, the foundation has contributed over $100 million to qualifying nonprofit organizations and it currently ranks as the fifth-largest corporate foundation in Georgia in terms of giving. 

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