School bullying is an issue that extends beyond American borders. So when members of the Japanese Ministry of Education tapped Port Washington Public Schools to share insights on school bullying, educators here said yes.
Last week, Interim Superintendent of Port Washington Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney and School Board President Karen Sloan played host to nearly 20 Japanese educators, ranging from college professors to elementary teachers.
Why visit Port Washington?
“The Japanese delegation of educators explained to us that their Ministry of Education wanted a suburban school district in the New York City area to visit in addition to visiting some New York City Schools,” Mooney said.
“The purpose of their educational visit is to learn about American anti-bullying, student anger management programs and student behavior management programs,” Mooney added.
The aim of the visit was also to provide an open exchange of ideas in an uninterrupted setting designed to bring together various groups of educators in a productive and intelligent summit whose conclusions can be brought back for consideration to Japanese public schools.
“Sadly, they also seem to be experiencing an increased suicide rate because of bullying among their young adolescent students,” Mooney noted. “Their research of schools who are known for having strong social development programs led them to Port Washington. We are the first stop on their two-week visit to the area.”
The visit coincided with the passing of New York’s recent landmark legislation, the Dignity Act, a governmental, school-sponsored stand against harassment and discrimination where it is believed that bullying often takes root. With this legislation, schools are no longer forced to go it alone in protecting the victims of bullying. Now, schools and their students have formal protection to force perpetrators to think otherwise or face the impact of this law. The school district was able to share strategies for bullying, anger management and dealing with emotionally distracted students.
The district provided tours to Manorhaven, Sousa and Guggenheim Elementary Schools, Weber Middle School and Schreiber High School.
“Their visits to the schools included student performances, building tours, a typical American school lunch, classroom lesson observations and presentations on our many social-emotional programs and resources,” Mooney said. In addition, there were welcoming and farewell rituals.
“We are proud of the quality and substance of the programs we provide our students to teach tolerance, promote respect and deter bullying,” Mooney said. “We have enjoyed this educational and cultural exchange and have learned a great deal about both our similarities and differences.”
Asked about what the district learned from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Mooney said, “They do not have the same level of programs, interventions and support staff that we do. They came here to learn from us.”
Mooney extended thanks to Dr. Brad Fitzgerald, John Spiezio, Mrs. Sica, Ms. Shoga, Ms. Yamamoto, Natasha Talukdar, Halam Kim, Issei Kohama, the F.B.L.A., the H.S.A., Mrs. Dell, Shiro of Japan, the Faccibene family, the Ikuei School, and Mary Balaban for their help in managing the weeklong event.