La Cumbre Junior High School Principal Jo Ann Caines will be honored on Sunday by the Anti-Defamation League for the school’s multipronged approach to ridding the campus of bullying, peer pressure, stereotyping and prejudice.
In one exercise, each student participates in an annual project called One School, One Book, in which all the students read a book that addresses the topic of bullying.
Last year, the students read and discussed The Revealers, a novel about three junior high school students who are the targets of bullying and decide to do something about it by creating a science-fair project called “The Bully Lab.”
This year, the students at La Cumbre are reading and discussing Bobby’s Story, which tells the story of a boy who must learn to cope with the rigors of attending a new school — such as bullying — after his family is forced to move.
Caines, who became the school’s principal about three years ago, also surveys students about bullying and other concerns.
“We want to know what it’s like to be here as a kid,” she said.
In addition, Caines has started a program in which the students produce a pamphlet on peer pressure.
The brochure is completely written by students, and it shows. One section includes personal testimonies on how to say no without inviting unnecessary conflict. A La Cumbre student named Eric wrote: ”There was one time that my friends wanted to drink. I came up with an excuse and said that I couldn’t because my mom would smell it. Some of my friends told me okay, you don’t have to do it then.”
Caines said students often can convey these messages much more compellingly than adults.
“Everything is written by adults talking to kids or at kids,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be.”
Caines also ensures that students at the school are exposed to guest speakers who talk about prejudice and stereotyping.
Caines is a native of Santa Barbara and graduated from Santa Barbara High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. She taught at La Cumbre Junior High before serving as the assistant principal. She went on to become the principal at Adams Elementary School in 1995, a position she held for nearly a decade.
As the principal of La Cumbre Junior High School, Caines has focused on raising the academic bar for all students. “I want all students to receive a quality education that give them many choices for lifelong careers,” she said.
Sunday’s recognition will take place at the Fess Parker Doubletree Hotel. The other honorees will be Santa Barbara Foundation Executive Director Chuck Slosser and community philanthropists Irma and Morrie Jurkowitz.
Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.