Building on the success of our school and community partnerships in the South End, in September of 2012 we hired a School and Community organizer to grow similar collaborations in Lower Roxbury. She began by meeting with each of our students’ families. These meetings identified several safety concerns.
One was the frequency of bullying on the bus which transports students from Lower Roxbury to and from the Edison K-8 School. Jennie assembled a team of parents who developed short- and long-term strategies to tackle the problem. They circulated a petition requesting that the district: provide a bus attendant; identify an Edison staff person responsible for responding to complaints; and allow St. Stephen’s to lead peace building workshops on the bus. Presented with 25 parent signatures, Edison’s principal connected them with Boston Public Schools’ Director of Transportation who met with them in late November and approved funding to hire an attendant.
To improve conditions on the bus in the interim, she conducted peace-building workshops on the bus. Despite the logistical difficulties of providing training on a moving bus containing about fifty k-8 students, this was a good first step. A B-READY parent was ultimately hired as the attendant. As one of the first parents to raise concerns about the issue, and a prominent participant in the anti-bullying campaign, she was a great choice. Every morning when she gets on the bus with her daughter, we are reminded of how powerful people can be when they work together to improve their lives and their communities.