Cottonwood Elementary fights bullying, installs Buddy Benches

She walks through the crowd and hundreds of children clap loudly for her and cheer her name. Is she famous? Maybe not in Hollywood…but she is at Cottonwood Elementary! She is, Cathy Lindbloom, an Educational Support Personnel at Cottonwood and the first adult inducted into the student-led Cottonwood Cares Community. “It really is such an honor to be chosen by the students, I was very surprised! Our school and students are great, I am excited to be a part of the Caring Community!” says Lindbloom who was inducted into the Caring Community during an assembly where current members showcased their work and inducted new members. Cottonwood Elementary began the Caring Community in conjunction with their Bully Proofing program that began earlier in the academic year. The Bully Proofing program was a school-wide effort with students and staff participating in training over the course of six weeks. The excitement of the program soon made its way home to parents and guardians and Cottonwood began introducing Parent Training Nights to share the Bully Proofing program with their entire school community. “The school immediately began to see a positive impact from the training, our Refocus Room referrals immediately decreased. So much of the Bully Proofing work teaches our young people to advocate for their needs and wants. Students now know they have voice and choice in the way they are treated and respected,” says Cottonwood Elementary Principal Brian Doner. A major component of the Bully Proofing program was the start of the Caring Community and Buddy Benches at Cottonwood. [image: Cottonwood3.jpg] Part of this new initiative is the installation of Buddy Benches on the playground. They are designed to help students recognize when others are being left out of recess play. Students know that if a student is sitting on the bench, they should go encourage them to join their game or play with them. "The students/staff/parents raised funds to purchase one of the benches and then the 2nd one was donated by a teacher with a portion of a memorial fund," NCSD Communications Specialist Tanya Southerland said. "These benches are quite amazing and are making a difference in schools around the nation." *These truly un-staged photos show a teacher and a preschoolers interacting on the Buddy Bench.* *h/t Tanya Southerland / Natrona County School District* #oilcity #news