New Collaboration Offers Opportunities to Improve School Climate, Fulfill Dignity Act

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In collaboration with the Lions Club International Foundation, the Long Island Lions Quest Initiative recently announced the awarding of a Core 4 grant of $133,000 to help Long Island schools train teachers and provide materials for the K-12 Lions Quest program, a proactive initiative to create safe, supportive and successful schools on Long Island. Through this grant, proactive schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties are set to create safer and more supportive schools through Lions Quest, which meets the new Dignity for All Students Act curriculum requirement. Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci hosted an information meeting at Farmingdale State College on October 9th during which legislators and school officials learned about the program.

Lions Quest, an evidence-based program, focuses on social and emotional skill building, bullying, substance abuse and dropout prevention, and service learning. The Lions Quest program is designed to create a positive and safe school climate for students and teachers, and unite the home, school and community. Highly effective programs like Lions Quest have been  proven to decrease problem behaviors while increasing academic achievement, pro-social behaviors and connectedness to family and school.
The program includes a carefully sequenced elementary, middle school and high school curriculum and helpful guidelines for parent meetings, service learning strategies and a school climate committee. The grant will be used to subsidize the cost of training Long Island teachers and administrators in the implementation of this program, which helps reduce the cost to school districts and taxpayers.

The implementation of Lions Quest across Nassau and Suffolk counties is in collaboration with the Lions clubs of both counties, and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the official charitable organization of Lions Clubs International. Western Suffolk BOCES will be providing the one-day professional development workshops to train educators. Districts that participated in training last spring and who have already received grant awards are Commack, Freeport, Huntington, Long Beach and Merrick Schools. Other districts in the process of submitting grant proposals include Eastport-South Manor, West Babylon and Woodward Children’s Center.
Several other districts attended information sessions and are considering the program.

“As a career law enforcement officer, I’ve seen the consequences of drug use and the need for quality prevention education. But I’ve also seen firsthand the impact that high-quality programs like Lions Quest have on our communities,” said Al Brandel, Past International President of Lions Clubs International and a member of the West Hempstead Lions Club. “It is vital that schools, families and communities come together and insist on bringing social and emotional education to our schools, and I’m proud to join with my fellow Lions members to expand this initiative on Long Island.”

The implementation of Lions Quest will help schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties meet the requirements of the Dignity for All Students Act. This legislation requires all New York schools to provide learning environments free of discrimination, bullying and harassment. A key component of the law is providing Kindergarten through twelfth grade instruction in civility, citizenship and character education.

“Teachers who implement the program discover that strong bonds and positive relationships develop in their classrooms, while students develop important skills such as working collaboratively, making informed decisions, solving problems, and achieving their goals,” explains Joan Fretz, co-founder of the LI Social Emotional Literacy Forum. “Students then choose to contribute positively and that maximizes instructional time. Lions Quest lessons include highly effective teaching strategies and are well-correlated with the Common Core Learning Standards, teacher evaluation competencies, differentiated instruction, and the Dignity Act curriculum requirements.”

As part of the long-term vision for the initiative, LCIF will prepare two affiliate trainers for Nassau and Suffolk counties to help the Lions districts meet their future training needs and create sustainability for the program. Data collection and evaluation will be conducted over the span of the next two years to determine the effectiveness of Lions Quest with a specific focus on the goals of the Dignity for All Students Act.

Lions Quest has trained more than 500,000 educators and positively impacted more than 12 million students in more than 80 countries, making it one of the most widely-used social and emotional learning programs in the world.

About Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) LCIF supports the large-scale humanitarian initiatives of members of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in 208 countries and regions. Service to youth has been a longstanding mission of LCIF, which has awarded more
than 200 grants for a cumulative total of more than $13 million to expand or establish Lions Quest programs across more than 80 countries worldwide. To learn more, visit www.lcif.org or www.lions-quest.org.

To receive a grant application and additional information about the Long Island Lions Quest Initiative, please contact Lions Quest directly at 1-800-446-2700, or Joan Fretz, LI Lions Quest Education Consultant at 631-266-2720 or jrfretz@optonline.net.

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