Bullying expert addresses many district patrons
Every student in the Baldwin School District and several parents learned ways to deal with bullying as Joe Coles, student service coordinator, came and spoke last week around the district.
"I think it's always good that we bring focus to these issues," said Allen Poplin, Baldwin High School principal. "It was time well spent. It was good to hear Mr. Coles say that Baldwin is as proactive as any district."
Coles, who works for the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center, came to Baldwin Wednesday night and gave a presentation to Baldwin City parents.
"I was pleased with the number of parents we had come out," Supt. James White said. "Those represented asked good questions and Mr. Coles did a nice job with his presentation."
On Thursday, Coles hopped around the different school buildings as he gave eight different talks.
"He was seeing a lot of kids in a short amount of time," said Tom Mundinger, Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center principal. "He had a lot of bases to cover and a wide variety of age levels in a short period of time."
Coles said he really enjoys talking to and helping to children.
"I love them, that's why I am here," Coles said. "I do it a lot. I could stay out west and do this everyday, but I have a real passion for working with kids."
Since BHS had a few issues with bullying in August and early September, the district would have liked to have Coles come earlier, but his schedule didn't allow for that.
"We would certainly been pleased to have him a little sooner, but he's very busy," White said. "He was telling us that his schedule is full through November. We were just pleased to have him come in and visit with the parents, faculties and students."
Mundinger thought Coles' message was good, especially since it was similar to what the school had been pressing into its students.
"The thing I thought was good about it from an elementary standpoint, was that it reinforced what Celia and our staff has covered with our kids," Mundinger said.
One reason Mundinger thought the message would stick with students is because of his knowledge.
"Your parents can tell you something and it may not mean as much," Mundinger said. "But somebody from the outside says it, then they are an expert and it may carry a little more weight. It was good to have an outside expert come in and reinforce the topic."
White said the students might take the message to heart because of stories Coles told.
"He had a nice perspective that he brought to the students," White said. "He really spoke to them on a level they could understand. He added in some testimonies of how he had worked with students and I think that was particularly effective."
Mundinger thought Coles' points were good, and he knows the district has to be active on this issue.
"I thought the message was good," Mundinger said. "I think the message is certainly timely. We can't put our head in the sand, bullying takes place."
Coles was a school counselor until about six years ago, when he decided to change professions.
"I took this job and I wasn't sure what I was going to do," Coles said. "The school asked me to do a workshop that happened to be on bullying."
He has delivered presentations all over Kansas and the Midwest, along with Oklahoma, Missouri and San Francisco.
Coles also attended the same college as Mundinger and was also an education major at Southwestern College in Winfield. Both graduated in 1972.
"It just happened to be coincidental that we went to college together and our paths crossed," Mundinger said.
Coles' intent is simple.
"If I help one kid, then it's worth the time for me," Coles said. "That's my goal."
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