Students teach against bullying in the community
The “Leadership through Community Service” course at Seton Hall continues to catch the attention of school districts across New Jersey for its one-of-a-kind anti-bullying program. Paula Zaccone, education studies professor and instructor of the course, currently has 17 students who are participating in the program.
The program is available for Seton Hall students of all majors who have completed their prerequisite core courses.
The program, funded by two ShopRites located in Belleville and Nutley, showcases a play performance for elementary school students in first through fourth grade. The 45-minute play, created and written by Zaccone, is titled “The Bully Bulletin: an Interactive Anti-Bullying Education Program for Children” and is performed about two to three times each semester since its start in 2011.
This year’s funding totaled $400 and paid for t-shirts for SHU students to wear at their performances in the spring and fall 2016, according to Zaccone. The program was formerly funded by the BMW of Bloomfield, NJ, and contributions covered the cost of booklets passed out at elementary school performances.
Zaccone said that she wrote proposals to businesses explaining components of the program such as the need, target population, details of implementation, budget and support, resource research, and the evaluation procedure for the program in elementary schools.
The play takes a creative approach to teaching young children about bullying.
Students of the CORE class use puppets to interact with children and address aspects of bullying such as the victims, bystanders and cyber bullies. The objectives of the program are to identify bullying behavior and its consequences, and to respond correctly to situations involving bullying.
Members of the audience are given a chance to expand their vocabulary with words such as abuse, experiment, feelings harassment, intervention, respect, sportsmanship and trepidation, according to a course description provided by Zaccone.
Zaccone added that “The Bully Bulletin” has been presented at various state, national, and international conferences for health and physical education. The play was also featured at the National Conference of the Society of Health and Physical Education.
With the Anti-Bullying laws enacted in New Jersey in 2011, many school districts are interested in expanding bullying education for their students. Zaccone’s program is free and there are supplementary workbooks available to teachers.
The students of Zaccone’s program do not create the material performed as it is provided for them. However, the communication and presentation skills that are learned in class are used and honed during their performances.
Mackaully Presutti, a junior social work major and double minor in psychology and criminal justice, explained the process of applying what is learned in class to the presentations.
“We do discussions and exercises to sharpen our understanding of leadership roles in our environment, which translates into our presentation in the field,” Presutti said. “This helps us because once we are able to embarrass ourselves in front of each other, we feel less intimidated to put ourselves out there for strangers.”
Kathleen Kloc, a senior education major, described her experience as a student in Zaccone’s course and program.
“Being a future teacher, I enjoy class time being spent in front of children; performing something that is both entertaining and educational,” Kloc said.
Nicole Encalada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.