Supporting Healthy Behaviors and Environments

Guidance counselors in the Great Valley School District are known for their ability to relate to students, and for their ability to listen well and to be observant and compassionate. Peter Naylor, the counselor at Sugartown Elementary School, is no exception. But ask him about the Olweus Book Cart and the books he purchased through grant money awarded to him by the Foundation, and his usual light-hearted demeanor turns more earnest. The reason is because he takes Olweus – and what it does for students – very seriously.

Olweus [pronounced Ohl-VAY-us] is a research-based anti-bullying program that is implemented in all Great Valley schools. Through the Foundation’s Venture Grant Program, Naylor requested funding to purchase a cart of books that support the Olweus program. “The Olweus book cart is a great resource,” said Naylor. “All Sugartown staff and teachers have access to the cart and the amazing collection of uniquely themed books.”

According to Naylor, the books were selected to meet the needs of students at all grade levels. “For the younger elementary children,” he said, “the books focus on human differences – both a recognition that they exist and an appreciation of how we benefit from them.” Books for older grades take on important issues like self-esteem, cyber-bullying, and cliques, and provide a basis from which teachers can launch discussions that may touch on something they observed in the classroom, he said.

“Have you ever read Maddi’s Fridge?” Naylor asked. Available on the Olweus book cart, Naylor said that Maddi’s Fridge is a big issue book, handled delicately. The story is about a girl who discovers that her friend’s fridge is empty, except for a carton of milk, because the family cannot afford to fill the refrigerator with food. Naylor read the book to elementary students earlier this month.

“The children were surprised to learn that there are Great Valley students who cannot count on having dinner each night,” he said. “The books on the cart allow me and other teachers to introduce tough topics like this through award-winning stories. The books are a wonderful resource that really help to support healthy behaviors and a broader world-view among our students.”