Bulldogs Are Not Bullies

Mon, Mar 5, 2012

Administration, Policy, Uncategorized

by Charles W. Bindig, Ed.D.

I had the opportunity this weekend to visit Stonebridge High School in Loudoun County Virginia, and found two interesting visual artifacts that might significantly describe the current state of the American High School. My first observation was that the inhabitants of the building were identified by signage as either a bulldog or a visitor. It should be assumed that a “Bulldog” is a student who attends the school and further refers to the mascot or name of the school sports teams. The second artifact was a bulletin board prominently displayed in the hallway and adjacent to the main office. The title of the bulletin board was “Bulldogs are not Bullies”, and attached to the board were testimonials from freshman.
Of course the testimonials thanked the upperclassmen for acts of kindness, and expressed general good cheer as the freshman made their difficult transition from middle school to the big high school. We are all aware that freshman failure rates in high schools are traditionally very high, and this is due in fact to a high school staff that has little patience for the new students and upper classroom who choose to be bullies.
The fact that students were referred to as bulldogs is interesting, since the term breaks down the freshman, sophomore etc. pecking order and identifies the students as a monolithic whole. The “Bulldogs are not Bullies” bulletin board is reminiscent of some attempt at conflict resolution in an elementary school. The symbolism made me pause and ask the question, whether this display was effective and whether it was a window on the current state of high schools in America? It should be mentioned that Loudoun County is hardly representative of mainstream America, but if a simple bulletin board lowered the effect of bullying at the secondary level, what simplistic solution to a difficult problem.
This author has no idea whether this bulletin board, or the decision to call all students bulldogs, had an effect on respect in the building, but the very fact that these artifacts are so prominently displayed, suggests that something very interesting is occurring in this school. In a time when students are innocently murdered in a high school in Ohio, it is comforting to note that at least one school in this country, is going out of its way to be inclusive, and suggests that in a larger sense, we are all bulldogs. All bulldogs are tough and steadfast, but tolerant and instinctively stick together.

Dr. Bindig is a full time manager of educational outreach for American Public University System and an instructor for the School of Education. He holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey and a masters degree in Musicology from Rutgers University. Dr. Bindig received an Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University with a dual concentration in Educational Leadership and Instructional Technology. He has 32 years of experience as a public school teacher, principal and superintendent in the New Jersey public schools. Dr. Bindig has taught for several online universities as well as serving as a dissertation advisor at Nova Southeastern University. His main focus in educational research is student achievement gains facilitated via technology.

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