Mr Maier talks about STAND
(Image: Mr Maier talking leadership)
Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet is set to introduce a new initiative that aims to promote equality and fairness in the school. IEGS News talked to school counselor Mr Andrew Maier about STAND.
IEGS: What's the STAND Program all about?
Mr Maier: IEGS is required by both Swedish law and its own ethical code to ensure the school environment is safe and secure and promotes equality and fairness among all school community members. To ensure that we honor this we are required to produce a Fair and Equal Treatment Plan for IEGS. This was done last year through a collaborative process between members of the school community (staff and students included).
The STAND program is a tangible way to bring the Fair and Equal Treatment Plan to life. Rather than just having a document, we want to have a program that encompasses involvement from everyone in the school community.
STAND symbolizes Students Taking Action for No Discrimination. The STAND program will involve education to all school community members on what fair and equal treatment is considered by law and what constitutes bullying, discrimination, and unfair treatment. Both teachers and students will learn how valuable their different roles are in maintaining the positive / warm environment IEGS has.
The program will be guided by the STAND committee which is made up of teachers/staff, students, and parents. I will be facilitating the program and committee meetings. The committee will be responsible for ensuring the school is doing what it can to follow the Fair and Equal treatment plan and continuously evaluate feedback from school community on the environment and communicate ideas for improvement or needed action to the school administration. There will be a locked box in every House hall where students can drop in a note giving feedback or sharing concerns regarding the school environment. Together with the STAND committee I will address this feedback.
In each House hall there will also be a large board sponsored by the STAND committee called "STANDING OVATION BOARD". Each committee member will have the opportunity to nominate one person from within the school community (can be a teacher or student or parent) who they observed either first or second hand doing something to help the school environment be warm, friendly, and a nice place to be. The nominated person will get their picture and short explanation of why they are being nominated put up on the board for all to see. This will help the Committee to focus on recognition of positive behavior and reinforce others to recognize these actions as worthy of acknowledgement.
IEGS: Why do we need STAND?
Mr Maier: We need STAND to help us focus our attention and efforts on positive behavior and interaction in the school. We don't just want more rules, regulations, or policy. We want a living and breathing program that highlights the great diversity and strengths of our school.
STAND is needed as the school gets larger and it becomes easier for students judgment and choices to hide in these larger numbers. We want to really showcase the great choices and behavior with our STANDING OVATION boards and be on the lookout for concerning behavior (bullying, discrimination, etc.)
IEGS: How do you see STAND making a real difference to daily life at Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet?
Mr Maier: I see the STAND program as another great opportunity for students to get involved in important issues that are part of their everyday life. Discrimination, racism, bullying, and other unfair treatment are sadly part of life. We can't ignore it but don't find it so useful to only focus on NOT doing it. If we create an atmosphere where the focus is on choosing alternative behaviors and attitudes directly opposite to discrimination and bullying we have a school that people feel comfortable and safe in. When students feel safe and know they can STAND up for what they believe and be themselves they begin to focus on what they want to accomplish and achieve great things.
Students also feel empowered when they are involved in such a program. They learn some valuable lessons in helping others and standing up for human rights. When problems happen the school is prepared to pro-actively address the problems in an honest and open way and ensure all students (even students using bullying behaviors) are helped.
IEGS: STAND comes from the US. How has the program worked over there?
Mr Maier: STAND is an idea with roots in the states but a very different focus. Most programs are preventative and reactive in nature. STAND will focus on acknowledging and supporting the already positive behaviors we see day to day. We will work towards supporting such an atmosphere because if this atmosphere remains strong we will rarely have incidents of bullying or discrimination.
IEGS: Do you have any personal experience of using STAND?
I have experience as a counselor in the U.S. with bullying and discrimination among students and have seen how much of an impact it can have on everyone within the school community.
Coming from the State I have learned some very hard lessons from school communities who have experienced school shootings and other serious acts of violence. These incidents have always been traced back to serious acts of bullying and isolated students who were never taken serious. When these acts of violence occurred many people who were once in the role of onlookers or passive bystanders became victims as well. It was a very important learning moment for me that when one student bullies another and no one acts. We all lose.
When I was much much younger. Lets say middle school age. I had a close friend, Ricky. He was bullied everyday by a group of kids all the way up into High School. This group who bullied him happened to have some respect and acknowledgement for me and would back off when I stepped in and stood up for him.
One day in high school they showed up at his house when it was just the two of us alone. A car full of kids ready to beat him up. I stood outside my friends house when the car pulled up. They were all revved up and ready to get him. I told them that if they want him then they will have to beat me up as well. I had forgotten about this story until I got in touch with my friend years later. He had never forgotten that day.
To me I just simply did what I thought was right at the time. Looking back I realize that sometimes a simple choice to stand by someone can mean the world to them. My friend Rick always got picked on about his height as he was on the short side. He was a great basketball player with hopes of being a professional basketball player. He never made it in the sport but when we got back in touch he said to me "your never going to believe who I work for!!" He now works for the NBA (National Basketball Association) travelling the world as an international marketing agent. I always knew he would make it into the NBA!!