Students at North School learned about preventing bullying through song and dance last week.
The school hosted a Theatre Integrating Guidance, Education and Responsibility’s (TIGER) “I’ve Got Your Back” performance, which educates children about treating others with respect and kindness, offering tools they can use if they witness or experience bullying.
“Educating through the arts is such a fun and entertaining way,” TIGER tour manager Pam Irish said. “Children seem to really respond to it. It captures their attention and gives them an important message at the same time.”
Each of TIGER’s performances features a different acronym – for North School’s anti-bullying presentation, it’s TIGER: Take action, I can say no, Get help, Empathy and Respond with respect.
TIGER has performed annually at schools in Londonderry for seven of the eight years it has been touring in New England, according to Irish.
This year’s performance featured new, updated songs, as well as a change to the meaning of the ‘E’ in TIGER from “exit when necessary” to “empathy.”
“Empathy is something important to start teaching children very young, to teach them about showing kindness to the person next to you and general human kindness,” Irish said.
Members of TIGER’s cast told students during the March 19 performance that “empathy is the ability to share the feelings of another.”
The cast is comprised of five professional performers: Hannah Judas, Bartley Mullin, Samuel Bennett, Caralivia Levanti, and Kaoru Yano, an exchange student from Japan.
“Telling isn’t tattling if someone else gets hurt,” they sang while teaching students about “getting help.”
Irish said if a song is catchy, it helps children remember the message behind it.
“Changing up the music is a smart thing to do, it keeps the performances more engaging for students,” she said. “We try to stay current. They’re really listening more when the music is more engaging.”
Principal Paul Dutton said the assemblies have become a tradition in the School District, and that TIGER’s message reinforces the schools’ culture of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS), a system of incentivizing good behavior.
“It’s a proactive approach,” he said. “We have a lot of small assemblies to talk about behaviors.”
The TIGER assembly helps reinforce the school’s message, particularly with regard to behavior outside of school, according to Dutton, who thinks the approach has definitely been successful at North School.
“It’s reflected in the culture of the building,” he said. “Whenever we go on field trips, we always get comments on how well behaved the students are.”
To reinforce TIGER’s message after they leave, Irish said the group leaves a papier-mâché tiger at the school to serve as a visual reminder of what the students learned.