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RCMS principal attends national conference on bullying, harassment and social media

Rosemary Clarke Middle School Principal Tim Wombaker announced what could be described as an alarming statistic concerning bullying and harassment at his campus.

He said the school records the most instances of bullying compared to other schools in the Nye County School District.

“We are the busiest school in the entire district in terms of responding and addressing issues such as bullying,” he said. “We had almost 500 Sprigeo reports last year, where some of the other schools only had one a month.”

Sprigeo, Wombaker said, is an online system for students and parents to report instances of harassment and bullying both on and away from school grounds.

Wombaker recently attended a three-day professional development conference in California where he joined nine other administrators from around the country.

The purpose of the meeting was to assemble middle school administrators and talk about not just bullying, but other school-related issues occurring across the country.

“We talked about things the other administrators have gone through and it was a great gathering of minds,” he said. “We talked about instances where if something is happening in Colorado, is something similar happening in Nevada? There were administrators from Florida, Washington and Las Vegas.”

Though Sprigeo was implemented at Rosemary Clarke Middle School three years ago, Wombaker said school district officials implemented the system for all Nye County campuses last year.

He noted that the conference was a great way to monitor safety concerns and issues with not just bullying, but harassment, self-harm, and sensitive friendship issues among the students.

“Sprigeo deals with a multitude of issues that kids are having,” he said. “It wasn’t one of those conferences where you just go and sit back and relax. We were actually engaged from 7 a.m. to 8 o’clock at night just talking about the issues.”

Additional topics of discussion included overall school safety, transgender youth, mental health issues and social media.

Suspension alternatives were also part of the talks, where several guest speakers also participated in the conference, via Skype.

As a result, Wombaker said he learned that the scourge of bullying is seen in many of the schools around the country.

“We talked about school safety and social media because social media is one of the biggest things going with young people across the country right now,” he said. “We talked about transgender issues and what each school is doing and how they plan to handle it. Mental health was also a topic of discussion as teachers and administrators deal with threats of suicide and self-harm.”

Wombaker also noted that since its implementation, the Sprigeo system appears to be paying dividends regarding more students coming forward to report various school-related issues among students.

“It’s not just about bullying and harassment, but it addresses other issues, and I think the kids are more trusting using the Sprigeo program,” he said. “Students have reported self-harm incidents and even issues happening out on the bus stop. It’s an anonymous way of protecting their rights and the safety of others as well as making sure they are responsible students. To me, that’s very important because the middle school has the highest number of incidents.”

Wombaker also praised his assistant principal for her efforts in putting Wombaker’s name forward to the committee who selects the administrators.

“Laura Weir informed them that I had implemented Sprigeo here at the school and saw a lot of great things as a result,” he said. “The district then implemented it and you could say it was kind of trend-setting for our county. It’s in multiple states across the country. I really appreciate the district’s decision in allowing me to attend the conference.”

Additionally, Wombaker said several guest speakers who participated via Skype, added much to the conversation.

“The event was the first of a series of different gatherings,” he said. “With the success of this as a first-of-its-kind conference, they are looking at future meetings for different levels.”

School District Superintendent Dale Norton said he applauds the efforts of both Wombaker and school staff on maintaining a safe learning environment for all students on campus.

“Mr. Wombaker and his staff at RCMS were the first to use the Sprigeo reporting system and now the entire district uses Sprigeo as the online reporting system for issues related to school climate,” he said. “Nye County School District is fortunate to have an administrator be selected and attend this event.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

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