Rick recently sat down with Homer Public School’s Secondary Principal Randy Pirner to learn more about their school safety efforts and use of TIPS. As a small rural school in Nebraska, we are definitely impressed with Homer’s leadership and their innovative efforts to keep their students safe!
Below is a quick excerpt from the interview. Click here to listen to the rest of Principal Pirner’s Lessons Learned!
Why did your school see the need for a proactive prevention program like TIPS?
We found that we had an issue with bullying; not a significant number, but we had a total disconnect from the younger child having an issue with bullying to the school. The paper trail never got to the right people – the principal, counselor, etc. As a small school, we wear multiple hats and if you don’t have a way to track the path of a student, it is difficult to know the full picture and make decisions.
With a program like TIPS, schools can streamline efforts and keep everyone in the know. TIPS has been a great tool for us to track and help students as they grow.
We didn’t even really know what we were looking for, but when we stumbled upon TIPS, it was really unique. It was primarily used for large districts and colleges, and we became one of the first small rural schools to use the program.
We have the same problems as larger districts. We might not have as many, but TIPS provides a way for all of us to know immediately if a student is being harassed in school or out of school.
What feedback have you received from students, parents or school staff?
Probably the most feedback we have received is from students. All the feedback is positive. Students have said it is just nice to be able to tell somebody about a situation and not worry about walking into the principal’s office or set up a meeting with the counselor. It is immediate and you do get action.
We act on every situation. Sometimes students might get confused on a bullying incident or someone just having a bad day. We have a counselor who will connect with students on every single matter. Parents have also contacted us and enjoy it as they can access TIPS from work or home. Sometimes statements might be made online on social media and they can easily upload those comments from a particular bullying or harassment situation into TIPS so we can see it and review. I forwarded one incident onto our Liaison Officer and it is great to have that documentation available.
How are you using TIPS to proactively prevent or stop incidents from escalating?
TIPS has made communication easier, and when we communicate with students, problems seem to get taken care of. It’s when that piece of communication isn’t there, we aren’t aware of potential problems. TIPS provides a vehicle for someone to be made aware of a possible situation. TIPS also provides proof and evidence to share with the parents when a report is made.
The more aware you can make students that there is always an alternative solution; TIPS has helped make their school experience a more positive one.