- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Daniele Halfhill’s classroom at Fulton Elementary School in Dubuque was buzzing with activity Tuesday morning as children gathered around college students.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students participated in the second week of University of Dubuque’s “Culture of Bullying: Waiting on the World to Change” class. The three-week course is aimed at educating university students on bullying while incorporating weekly, hands-on, anti-bullying efforts at the Dubuque elementary school.

As part of the January-term course, UD students handed out Starburst candy while a sign projected on the whiteboard read, “Label jars, not people.”

“A lot of my students are learning a lot more about who they are as a person and what makes them unique and how that thing that makes them unique isn’t something that others can make fun of,” said Halfhill, one of two fourth-grade teachers at Fulton. “It’s something that makes you, you.

“They’re also learning that everybody has something different and unique about them, and that nobody can change that,” she added. “Nobody can put you down because of that. It’s kind of giving them some empowerment.”

The Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/2j8pEE8 ) reports the UD students are learning about the different types of bullying, as well as how to combat them in everyday situations.

The college students then take what they learn in the classroom to Fulton for “contact days.” They spend an hour with each fifth-grade class before moving to the fourth-grade classes to repeat their lessons.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap,” said Amy Baus, director of vocation, civic engagement and life services and assistant professor of psychology at UD. “… In bridging that gap, we are trying to raise awareness not only with empathy, but self-respect, self-understanding and self-awareness.”

She said the experience is “quite meaningful not only for (the) fourth- and fifth-graders, but also the college students just trying to understand the concept.”

Baus, who has taught the course since it was introduced six years ago, said Tuesday’s theme was “Take a stand, lend a hand: Stop bullying.” Activities included teaching elementary school students an anti-bullying pledge, as well as creating art projects to display various bullying scenarios.

“We’re also looking at the bullying scene for students to really share and expose in art what have they witnessed or what have they maybe been part of in regards to the bullying effect, either as the victim or the perpetrator,” Baus said.

UD sophomore Kaetlyn Little took the course to supplement her psychology major, as well as prepare for any future bullying experiences she might experience.

“Through the hands-on (activities), I’ve learned that every student is different and experiences bullying in different ways,” she said. “I’ll be way more experienced and I’m going to be able to not just help in my field, but help anywhere. . For me, it’s about learning how to protect (these students) better, and for my future children, how to stop it before it starts.”

Camryn Thompson, 10, said she enjoyed more than just the art projects and candy handouts during the session.

“It was a pretty good day,” Camryn said. “I liked learning about the kinds of bullying. . I’m excited for next week when (they) come back.”

Halfhill said the time the UD students have spent with her class of 27 has been invaluable.

“Right now, they’re at a pivotal age. They’re making that transition from being an elementary student to moving towards being an early teen, a preteen,” she said. “They need to get that foundation and practice that over and over, so they honestly believe they are an important person in the community.”

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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