Eleven school districts throughout the state of Iowa, including Union Community Schools, have been recognized for their work training and coaching student mentors in the effort to combat bullying in their schools. The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) School District Luncheon at the Botanical Garden Conference Center in Des Moines on April 6 was co-sponsored by the Center for Violence Prevention (CVP) at the University of Northern Iowa and Verizon HopeLine™.
Schools were lauded for their delivery of the MVP bullying and violence prevention curriculum to near-peers within their respective schools. School teams of 10-12 individuals attended the event. Teams consisted of students, teachers, counselors and district administrators representing the larger, school-based team of student mentors, allies and supporters. Special luncheon guests included Dr. Bob Donley, executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents and Dr. Ryan Wise, director of the Iowa Department of Education.
School teams participated in small group activities facilitated by Michael Fleming, associate professor of family studies at UNI; Tess Cody, prevention specialist at Crisis Intervention Services in Des Moines; and Alan Heisterkamp, director of the CVP.
Verizon/CVP recognition plaques were presented to each school team by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Verizon representatives Michael McDermott and Meagan Dorsch.
The CVP’s partnership with Verizon has supported the center in reaching more than 13,000 secondary students in Iowa with bullying and gender violence prevention programming and bystander strategies.
The Union High School MVP program has 27 student mentors this school year. In a statement from Amy Kriz, the high school counselor and one of the MVP staff leaders, “Our mentors and student leadership team have put in a lot of extra time the past two school years preparing lessons, discussions, and activities to do with our freshmen. These students are the heart of our MVP program. The program has been a success because of their dedication and vision to positively impact those around them.”
Senior mentor, Morgan West, who also serves on the MVP student leadership team, reflected on the current school year stating, “All of the MVP mentors have worked very hard this year to improve the program within our high school. They have done an excellent job of making sure that the freshmen understand the reality of the lessons we teach so that they may be prepared to be an upstander, rather than a bystander, in situations they may face at some point in their lives. It was an honor to be a member of our leadership team and to be recognized in Des Moines by Governor Terry Branstad as one of only eleven schools in Iowa who have implemented the MVP program with the goal to bring an end to bullying and gender inequality within school districts across Iowa.”