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It Happened to Me

Perhaps what made former teacher turned public speaker, Matt Hart, so popular during his recent visit to Jane Ball Elementary School is that he begins by letting students and staff know that bullying happened to him.  Through his simple and insightful storytelling, singing and videos Mr. Hart interacted with the Kindergarten through 4th grade students on a level they could understand.  Special care was given to make sure students were able to relate to the concepts of being a bully or a buddy to someone, and understanding the difference between getting someone in trouble and keeping someone safe.  It’s a concept often difficult to grasp and can be a cause of great anxiety for young students.

man with guitar

Matt Hart begins his "reAct to Bullying" program with his guitar and a funny song.

Mr. Hart began by making the students and staff laugh while singing a song about his personal heroes, lunch ladies.  The silly song immediately created an atmosphere of joy and fun that relaxed the environment and made the students feel comfortable. 

Student volunteers were chosen to demonstrate the characteristics of bullying. Even Kindergarten and first grade students could understand the vocabulary used and the precepts that bullying is mean and happens more than once.  Mr. Hart used a tiny and adorable Kindergarten student to help explain the third precept of a power imbalance by demonstrating that size is one way a power imbalance might exist and might be used by a bully. 

Man with hand on the shoulder of student

Mr. Hart's first volunteer was Wyatt Ross

boy trying to make a mean face

Bullying is man and this is Wyatt's best "mean" face...despite the grin.  Great job Wyatt!

girl with hands in air by man

Makayla Strominski does a great job as well, demonstrating that bullying happens repeatedly, not just one time.  

While identifying bullying was the first step in the program, it was really the main focus of Mr. Hart’s “reACT to Bullying” that empowered students by giving them concrete, doable solutions to ‘reACT’ to being bullied, or if they see bullying.  Using ACT, Mr. Hart explained that “A” stands for ‘act’ and students should always, “act calm and confident.”  “C” stands for ‘call on someone to help.’  “Students should feel free to call on someone for help.  They can tell the person bullying them to stop in a clear and confident voice and without shouting, or they can walk away, but ultimately you need to tell someone that you need help,” said Mr. Hart.  Students were absolutely silent as Mr. Hart asked the adults in the room that were willing to help a child who was being bullied to stand.  With wide eyes the students looked around the gym and saw that every adult there was standing. The final, and perhaps most important letter in the “reACT” presentation was the “T” that reminded students to ‘tell’ themselves that they are AWESOME every day.

man with microphone

Matt Hart is passionate when he tells students about his own bullying experiences

Students were also enthralled by Mr. Hart’s personal story of being bullied for two years before finally approaching his coach and asking for help.  Mr. Hart is able to empathize with students and re-created how he felt small and unimportant while being bullied.  With a click of his fingers he told students how is life changed in just three days after talking to his coach.  The bullying stopped and he went on to become a teacher himself and now is dedicated to sharing his story with students. 

Mr. Hart’s thoughtful and thought provoking moments with the students and staff sent the message that the Jane Ball family needs to remain supportive of one another and that each and every day should be AMAZING!