Forum looks at bettering school climate

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2001

Success for all students, tolerance, parent involvement and valuing teachers would make for an ideal school, say local parents and teachers.

More than 100 parents, teachers and administrators gathered at Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday night to share ideas and learn about character education.

The forum, organized by the Juneau School Board, came in the wake of a middle school survey last school year that identified bullying and harassment as leading areas of concern.

Stephen Johnson, a character education specialist from Santa Clara University in California, spoke Thursday afternoon to students and in the evening to parents about raising ethical children.

He outlined five key parent behaviors for raising an ethical child. At the top of Johnson's list was having a daily meaningful conversation with your child.

"It's what allows you to be in the loop to be a mentor, a model, a consultant when your child makes decisions," he said.

Johnson said being available when kids want to talk, discussing what they want to discuss and avoiding advice unless it is requested are important rules for parents.

Johnson's other key points for parents were always knowing where your child is and following up with questions; integrating yourself into your child's friendships; giving rewards when your child's behavior merits them regardless of your mood; and sanctioning bad behavior consistently.

The other portion of the evening was devoted to gathering ideas on what Juneau schools would be like in an ideal world. In small groups, attendees wrote down thoughts on what a "perfect school" would be like.

"It's a chance to do brainstorming with other teachers, administrators and parents about what the goals are and what we need to do to get there," parent Sam Trivette said.

He said their table placed creating "an atmosphere of mutual respect for everybody involved in the system" as an important goal for improving Juneau's schools.

School Board member Alan Schorr said he was encouraged by the turnout. The board will examine the ideas generated, he said.

"This is a critical step to bring communities together," Johnson said. "When you type up all the comments from the tables you end up with a really cohesive vision."

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Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.



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