Governor also pays a surprise visit to National Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer
IJAMSVILLE, MD (May 26, 2011) – Governor O’Malley today, joined by Frederick County Schools Superintendent Dr. Linda Burgee, visited with educators, students and staff at Urbana Middle School as part of the second annual Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Maryland.
Urbana Middle School is one of the top anti-bullying programs in the state and is home to a nationally-recognized anti-bullying program, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This program is a coordinated effort by all adults in the school to supervise and intervene when any incident of bullying occurs. Students participate in monthly class meetings to learn about the effects of bullying; how they can empower the bully, the victim and the bystander; and how they can work together with adults to end bullying. The program not only involves the school community, but engages parents and guardians as well.
“I am pleased to join the students and staff at Urbana today to commend this innovative anti-bullying program,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland has passed some of the most comprehensive anti-bullying laws in the nation, and all of us – students, parents, teachers and administrators –can work to stop bullying when we see it happening. Programs like Urbana’s help us make great progress, but together, we can do more.”
The Governor and First Lady recently recorded a PSA to encourage bullying awareness and prevention.
"Urbana Middle School's core values include words like integrity, empathy and caring," according to Dr. Linda Burgee, FCPS superintendent. "This is a school where civility and compassion matter each and every day. It is very fitting and an honor that Governor O'Malley would choose this week to recognize staff and students for their success in creating a positive, respectful learning environment."
"We take pride in making sure all of our students feel safe in school. Our anti-bullying program, called Safe School Ambassadors, has two main goals: reducing bullying and increasing student awareness of unkind and hurtful actions. By empowering a core group of students through conflict resolution training and role playing, we find they are able to intervene when they see incidents of unkind behavior," said Gwen Dorsey, Urbana Middle School principal.
Though Maryland is the seventh state to enact an anti-bullying law that protects all students, there are still many instances of bullying throughout communities and schools. During the 2009-2010 school year in Maryland, a total of 3,318 incidents of bullying were reported, an increase of 2,132 over the previous year.
Last year, First Lady O’Malley partnered with the Maryland State Department of Education to declare the first Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Maryland to encourage schools across the state to engage students in events to stress non-tolerance towards bullying.
This year, Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown have joined the First Lady in participating in events across the state to talk about the importance of bullying awareness and prevention.
While in Ijamsville, the Governor also paid a surprise visit to National Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer at Urbana High School on her last day with her senior class to recognize her outstanding achievement and dedication to Maryland students. The Governor presented Michelle with a gift and citation.