SPRINGFIELD — LaTonia Naylor believes that preparing students for life after high school is about more than just academic success.
“I believe that being prepared for the workforce or college is more than content knowledge and requires emotional intelligence, dignity, and a sense of respect for human life,” said Naylor, a candidate for Springfield School Committee at large.
Naylor said with the increase of social media use among students, cyberbullying has worsened.
“In my work with chronic absenteeism we learned that bullying is a primary reason for students missing school,” said Naylor, who is a senior community impact manager with the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “The danger is that it’s a silent reason that most children won’t tell their parents about.”
Naylor points to findings from organizations like Attendance Works that focus on the impact of chronic absenteeism and solutions to reducing absences.
“If students don’t attend school, even if it’s because they don’t feel safe, they won’t graduate. Bullying is a safety issue, but it’s also a community issue. Yes, we must protect and prevent students from being bullied, but we must also recognize that bullies grow up to become adult bullies in the workplace, roadways, and community,” she said.
Naylor said, if elected, she would like to see a stronger focus on the district in-school and out-of-school social media and technology policies. In addition to revisiting the policies, Naylor would like to increase partnerships with anti-bullying programs that combine creativity and best practices to reduce the number of bullies and bullying incidents in schools.
“These types of programs teach participants anti-bullying messages in conjunction with life skills, self-discipline, and communication through interactive activities,” she said. “Students must be held responsible for their actions. If we teach them now, it will prepare them for later in life.”