Student safety is focus of Fairfield schools workshop

By From page A3 | August 02, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Joe Coles’ messages to Fairfield-Suisun School District administrators included one that came in two parts.

“You can’t have an extraordinary school unless kids feel safe,” he said Friday.

“This is a district that is very concerned about kids feeling safe in their schools,” Coles continued.

He said during a break in the event Friday that Fairfield-Suisun school district officials have really bought into the importance of such safety.

“They listen well,” Coles said.

About 80 administrators participated in the two-day workshop at the school district’s central office where Coles spoke Friday about how he doesn’t use the word “bully” but instead talks about bullying behavior. Bullying is a behavior – not a person, he said.

Coles, a Kansas-based consultant, worked for 31 years as a teacher, counselor, coach, athletic director and administrator. He spoke about the importance of teaching students to be resilient and how new communications technology means Fridays are no longer the day when trouble among students seems to peak.

Now it’s Mondays because what’s been said electronically has brewed all weekend, Coles said.

The consultant also spoke about how boys tend to be visual learners while girls usually learn verbally.

Structure is a key for boys, said Coles, who spoke about the consequences that follow without such organization. National statistics show 71 percent of suspended students are boys.

He also noted social changes: a half-century ago, about 5 percent of births were out of wedlock, while now that figure is more than 40 percent.

If you listen to James Dobson, the psychologist and radio host who founded Focus on the Family in 1977, Coles said you’ll hear that girls without male role models will search for them starting in middle school.

Coles said he used to hate it when consultants would come into the school district where he worked and tell people what to do.

Yes, the educator recalled, that happened 15 years ago under a different name.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


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