Editor's Note: Because of the sometimes sensitive nature of what the Guardians of the Children organization does for children, only the riders' road names are used in this story.
At Curtis Elementary, four years ago, counselor Lindsay Fuller had a stack of bullying reports numbering more than 300 on her desk that kept her busy.
"It's all I dealt with all day long." she admitted previously. "The [incidents on the] bus and name calling [were] horrible."
But ever since Freedom House's Selma Johnson began taking a curriculum to not only Curtis Elementary and schools within Weatherford ISD but other districts as well to teach students about the affects of bullying and how to combat it, those incidences have not only decreased significantly but almost disappeared.
On Friday, Johnson, Fuller and the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes at Curtis celebrated a milestone. As of the end of the week, there were only three reports of bullying there.
“No other school has it that low,” Johnson said. “Next year, we’re going to get it to zero.”
Helping Johnson teach those anti-bullying classes are some men and women who may not exactly fit the mold, so to speak. Known as the Steel Horses chapter of Guardians of the Children (GOC), the group consists of motorcycle riders with road names like Big Cat, Cobra, Nasty, Scout and Tiggs, and they help not only Johnson with the classes but other children they "adopt" who may be going through abuse or other issues.
Johnson (whose road name is Dynamite) had some of those riders with her on Friday to reiterate some of the lessons from the school year but also to talk about their own experiences with bullying.
"You're not a loser and you are of worth," Johnson reminded the students. "You can be anything you want to be and rise above people who call you names."
Johnson then told the story of how she was recently bullied and how it affected her even at her age.
“I felt bad and I let if affect me,” she said.
A rider who received a lot of excitement was Nasty. The reason? Students were told that he was a former professional wrestler.
Nasty grew up in the 60s, had bad asthma and was sometimes picked on by other kids because he couldn't run as fast or keep up. He went to wrestling school for a year before being put in the ring and on TV for the first time.
But the children were even more surprised to learn that Nasty has three degrees and was even more successful outside of the ring.
"I'm very proud to be associated with these people," Johnson said. "They are some of the most respectful folks I know."
Big Cat, who is the Steel Horses chapter president, said he was bullied when he walked home from school in the third grade but that when he went home and told his parents about it, the situation was dealt with.
"If this is happening, speak up and tell an adult about it," he said.
Scout gave the children one last piece of advice before Johnson wrapped up the morning's assembly with questions.
"A bully is nothing but a coward," he said.
National title hopes
Johnson will be competing for the national title June 18 in South Carolina at the Golden Mrs. Texas Today’s American Woman. Her platform, not surprisingly, is saying no to violence and bullying of all ages.
“All genders face this and no-one has to put up with it,” she said. “It doesn’t have to ruin their lives.”
Johnson will face five judges in both a private interview and also in front of an audience and explain why she feels her platform is important.
“There are cases where people have committed suicide or been victims of sexual assaults and I want everyone to know that we all deserve healthy relationships and healthy lives and that we can do it,” she said.
To help sponsor Johnson at the competition, contact her at email@example.com.