The Ottumwa Courier


November 27, 2012

Cardinal participating in governor’s anti-bullying summit

ELDON — A school where students care about the feelings of others and are willing to stand up for their fellow students would be a school where kids would feel comfortable learning.

That’s one of the reasons the Joel Pedersen, superintendent of Cardinal schools is bringing 45 students and teachers to the Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit in Des Moines today, where he’ll be a guest on one of the panels.

“I’ll be speaking, yes, but I’m mostly there to listen,” Pedersen said. “And learn things that are working in other school districts and [gain] ideas from national experts that we can adapt to work down here.”

It’s not that there’s a lot of harassment at Cardinal, said student Lindsay Albert, one of the high school students attending today’s anti-bullying seminar.

“We don’t really have a lot of bullying, but it does happen,” she said. “I hope the whole summit will give me insight of what to do if I ever have or see a situation with another student.”

Perhaps more importantly, she’ll be able to share what she learns.

“Most of us were bringing notebooks to write down what we can teach the other kids,” Albert said. “We want to go to the elementary school students and start early, to show them this isn’t right.”

Pedersen said he wants students to help guide the way toward maintaining a safe school.

“We’ll have multiple levels of leadership,” he said. “Students, teachers and administrators, and we’re hoping to add parents or the community at a later date.”

That way, he said, they can turn to students not as informers but as advisors.

“We’re working on ‘Safe Schools’ certification from the state, and that’s one of the eight components.  This is a way for us to hopefully build a student leadership team and [increase] accountability and capacity in the schools at multiple levels.”

Of course, a one-day conference isn’t going to change the world, Pedersen said. But it can get students and staff excited about curbing harassment or bullying issues — and that excitement can spread.

“The ultimate goal is to create more empathetic students, to have a school with more defenders [than bullies],” he said.

Albert said Cardinal teachers and administrators have been encouraging the idea that each person should try to “do no harm,” a philosophy that she feels has been catching on.

“I’m hoping after this whole thing that we could get a group started that could prevent bullying,” she said.

Pedersen’s goal is broad-based.

“It’s not just bullying,” he said, “it’s about the school culture and how we treat each other.”

School districts have been asked to do more and more with society’s future generation: From teaching them reading and math to teaching them to drive and perform CPR. There’s only so much educators can focus on during a six-hour day and still be successful as teachers.

“But this is one of the key components that can improve climate and culture,” the superintendent said. “And if you can improve climate and culture, I believe that directly impacts student achievement.”

On the web:

Those interested in following this discussion further can watch parts of the summit streaming online live from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at

In addition, follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NoBullyIA.


Note: Due to an incorrect press release, the Twitter hashtag for the conference was inaccurate. The story has been corrected to show the right hashtag.

Text Only
  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Bulldogs update color photo -L -M High school students lead Bulldog charge

    OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues. Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Directo

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Smart snacks color photo -M -L Schools adopt new food regulations

    OTTUMWA — This fall, students across the country will find big changes in the cafeteria, but Ottumwa kids may find they approve of the changes. The new "Smart Snacks in School" standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) went in

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survey finds math, science grads earn top dollar WASHINGTON (AP) — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Educ

    July 8, 2014

  • Pekin and Tri-County to share superintendent PACKWOOD — Both Pekin and Tri-County Community School Districts have voted to approve Operational Sharing Incentives for superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signe

    July 2, 2014

  • Teaching the teachers

    OTTUMWA — The community has formally advised the school district that strong teachers lead to strong students. Now Ottumwa teachers have "coaches" to help them boost educational muscle. Though the idea is now formalized under a Legislative state plan

    May 29, 2014

  • 0525 OTT OHS graduation web-color photo 3 OHS seniors say farewell OTTUMWA - Sunday marked the end of high school for all the graduating seniors from Ottumwa High School. Family and friends of the students packed the Bridge View Center, leaving standing room only for late-comers. You could feel the excitement in the

    May 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Slideshow: OHS graduation

    May 25, 2014

  • 0524 OTT OCS graduation web-color photo 3 Small ceremony for big achievements OTTUMWA - Saturday was a special day for the four seniors graduating from Ottumwa Christian School. This small graduating class is double the size of last year's class and illustrates the small-group learning style of the school. Family and friends o

    May 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Slideshow: Ottumwa Christian graduation

    May 24, 2014

AP National