A Message from Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School | October 12
Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School
Dear Families, 
As you read in our recent school communication, October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we will be turning the spotlight on our work to remind students, parents, and teachers that we all play a role in making Bernard Zell a safe and welcoming community. 
National Bullying Prevention Month falls at an important time in our Jewish calendar. In conjunction with our learning about Yom Kippur, Bernard Zell students are also learning the importance of making repairs when conflict arises and how they can contribute to those repairs when harm occurs in our community. This is also a tenant of our school’s commitment to the Responsive Classroom curriculum and directly connected to how we infuse these ideas into our classrooms on a daily basis.
This theme of making repairs is particularly relevant to our Lower School community. At this age, our students are learning the important skills of advocating for themselves, playing fairly, and working to include and be kind to their classmates. They are learning about friendships and who they are, and it is our job to support them in these endeavors as they cultivate their sense of self. 
With the lens of supporting Bullying Prevention Month, below you will find our key messages to Lower School students when they encounter teasing. Combined with our existing social-emotional efforts and curricula, all teachers are using the same supplemental resource (Ease the Tease, by Judy Freedman), adapted appropriately for different ages, and will be reinforcing these important messages to students throughout the year. 
  • Unfortunately, teasing happens. We are focusing on teaching you know how to respond. 
  • There are two types of teasing. Friendly teasing is not meant to be hurtful but sometimes can be. Mean teasing is meant to hurt. When you experience teasing, you might have big feelings (sadness, fear, anger).
  • While you can’t control what others do and say, the great news is that you can control your own reactions.
  • Discouraged reactions to teasing include hitting, teasing back, or talking badly about someone.
  • Encouraged ways to EASE THE TEASE include:
    • Things to Think:
      • Use Self-Talk: “Even though I don’t like this, I can handle it.”
      • Think Nice Things About Yourself: “I am a good friend; I am helpful.”
      • Use Imagination Power: Pretend your imaginary shield or word zapper is deflecting or zapping  mean words.
    • Things to Say or Do:
      • Ignore Teasing: walk away; join others.
      • Say “So?” or Shrug Shoulders: show the words don’t bother you. Teasers want to feel power over you - try not to let them.
      • Use I Message: “I don’t like that. Stop.”
      • Ask for Help: If teasing persists, report to a safe adult. 
All these strategies are meant to help kids keep their cool and stay strong. Standing up to teasing involves using a set of skills that require practice. We will continue to provide adult support, scaffolding, reflecting, and important SEL lessons to maintain the safest learning community.
Consistent language between home and school can help students feel confident and well supported. To that end, families have a wonderful opportunity through our parent education program to learn from author Judy Freedman. This program is intended to help parents partner with the school to support their kids when teasing/bullying occurs in our community. 
Ease the Tease Parent Program*
Friday, October 14, 8:00 a.m. in Rose Crown
Register Now
*We hope you will consider attending this important opportunity to support your children in being an upstander and responding to teasing that may occur in our community.

Karen Leavitt
Head of Lower School
Leah Frydman
Early Childhood and Lower School Social Worker

Follow Us on Instagram @bernardzell