The conversation about school safety has largely focused on defending students from a violent attack. That can mean installing new locks and bulletproof glass, but it can also mean creating a different kind of culture. TCSD Kind is a yearlong initiative of the Teton County School District #1 focused on providing safe, healthy and caring communities at all its schools.
This week, the district is hosting Rachel's Challenge. All 6-12 graders will attend school-wide assemblies designed to empower students to combat bullying and social isolation by fostering a culture of kindness and compassion. The program is based on the writings of Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999.
Teton One's superintendent Gillian Chapman said the assemblies are about giving students and teachers the right strategies.
"So when you see someone not being kind to someone, how do you handle that?" said Chapman. "What do you say to the kid that is not being kind to someone else? How do you stop that?"
Chapman said the goal is for young people to feel empowered as leaders.
"Give our students the opportunity to share their voice and experience — and know that it's safe," said Chapman. "I think that's how we really can make a difference."
Chapman said parents and community members were also invited to learn these strategies and help promote kindness outside of school as well. A public presentation on Rachel's Challenge took place Tuesday at the Jackson Hole High School Auditorium.