When Shannon Guantt walks through the halls at Shady Brook Elementary School, students stop her to describe how someone helped them pick up dropped books or let them borrow an eraser.
Guantt is the principal at Shady Brook, and the students are taking part in an anti-bullying campaign which includes launching a two-week “kindness” fundraiser for the school, sending cards to first responders and get well cards to classmates who are ill, and washing donated clothes for needy families.
“Any time we can provide tools to help kids act appropriately and to feel their emotions in a positive way, we are preparing them for life, “ Guantt said.
“This (anti-bullying campaign) goes beyond the walls at Shady Brook,” she said.
The School’s Parent Teacher Association wanted to emphasize the anti-bullying effort to help boost self-esteem and positive attitudes.
The PTA brought in Carolyn Jennings Brown, who created the Hey Dude Nice Shoes campaign, an anti-bullying, pro-kindness workshop for students, parents and teachers.
Brown, who lives in Austin and conducts the workshops throughout the state, came to Shady Brook on Monday to put on the Hey Dude Nice Shoes presentation for students, teachers and parents.
Lindsey Lyons, who is vice president of programming for the Shady Brook PTA and vice president of parent education and youth advocacy for the school district’s council of PTAs, said she and other parents felt that children needed more resources to counteract bullying.
“We are concerned as parents. We see what is going on in the world, and we hear stories about other families and other schools. That could be me or my child,” she said.
Lyons said she and others worry that more children are “self-medicating” and “self-harming” to cope with all of the pressures around them.
“I feel more anxious as a parent… I try not to let them watch the news, but you don’t want them to be naïve. But when you have duck-and-cover drills with everyone in the corner and being quiet, they know,” she said.
“For my own mental health, I just really try to teach my kids to be good human beings and to respect other people and to teach them to look for those who can’t look out for themselves.”