May 30, 2024
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May 30, 2024
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Dr. Rona Novick Visits Hillel Yeshiva

One of the more compelling issues that educators and parents have to face is in the area of bullying. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about one out of every four students report having some type of peer conflict during the school year. Yes, it is an unbelievable number—22 percent of children. Hillel Yeshiva, in our continuous efforts to enhance a positive and comfortable school climate, invited Dr. Rona Novick to speak to students, parents and faculty.

Dr. Novick is the Dean of Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University and holds the Raine and Stanley Silverstein Chair of Professional Ethics and Values. She is recognized for her expertise in behavior management and child therapy. She has published scholarly articles, delivered numerous presentations at conferences and has authored books on parenting and parent-school partnerships.

Dr. Novick’s presentations concentrated on “the way to promote empathy and manage social conflict in the school community.” A number of workshops were developed that targeted each grade: the early childhood faculty, the middle school faculty, middle school mothers and daughters, high school faculty and a parent workshop. Student workshops helped generate a shopping bag of strategies for students to rely on that encourage positive roles and responsibilities in social situations; faculty workshops discussed social challenges, the roles of teachers and how faculty can promote empathy, support social growth and address social conflict.

Dr. Novick stressed that one of the most important factors in creating a safe environment for all our students is to teach the concepts of social responsibility and empathy. Mrs. Basya Katz, LCSW, and Dr. Daniel Herrmann, School Psychologist, who are part of the team that developed this program, explained that it is “not just our students, but the entire community, teachers and parents, who must be involved in modeling positive behavior.” The other members of the team are Dr. Ruth Katz, Head of ELC-MS; Rabbi Howard Bald, Head of HS; and Rabbi Leo Beyda, Director of Middle School Student Activities.

Dr. Katz felt that Dr. Novick’s approachable and genuine personality is an asset in her ability to communicate positive suggestions to parents and faculty and most importantly to students. He said that her “vast knowledge of what kids are made of and the everyday challenges they face are what made her discussions so believable. Her tool kit of strategies has proven effective in creating a positive social climate. We are pleased that students, parents and faculty were able to learn so much from the sessions and are looking forward to future sessions with Dr. Novick.”

Rabbi Bald explained that “while the high school has a vigorous anti-bullying policy, nevertheless, it was important for Dr. Novick to address our teachers to further sensitize them, incorporate their awareness of the signs of bullying and to give them basic tools to diffuse potential bullying in classroom situations.”

Regrettably, bullying is an issue that seems to be everywhere, especially in informal settings where there is less supervision. What is involved? Social pressure and interactions among individuals are factors in the teasing, harassment and exclusion that are sometimes faced. Hillel Yeshiva is taking a giant step forward by addressing the issue, by creating a caring environment, by teaching leadership and social responsibility and by helping to teach the empathy that will erase the “social blindness” in bystanders. Hillel Yeshiva wants its students to be “leaders not followers,” to be “kind not cruel” and to make a difference.

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