Sprigeo Expert – Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Yale Expert in Emotional Intelligence

We are thrilled that Sprigeo had the opportunity to interview Dr. Brackett and discuss his recent work with Facebook surrounding anti-bullying. Facebook has now added a new emotionally intelligent bullying prevention system as a result of his input. Take a look at this video clip to learn more about the background behind the recent changes to Facebook.


Marc A. Brackett on 2013-08-16 from Sprigeo on Vimeo.

Dr Marc Brackett_Jan2011Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. He also is a Senior Research Scientist in Psychology and Faculty Fellow in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. Dr. Brackett is the author and co-author of 100 scholarly publications, as well as the co-developer of RULER—an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning. RULER fosters emotional intelligence skills in kindergarten to high school students as well as school leaders, teachers, staff, and families. Dr. Brackett’s grant-funded research focuses on (1) the role of emotions in learning, decision making, relationship quality, and mental health, (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence, and (3) experiments to demonstrate how emotional intelligence training enhances student and educator effectiveness, decreases bullying, and improves school climate.

Kinder than is Necessary – “Wonder”


Sprigeo was recently introduced to the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio through the The National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction.  About a week later, I was talking with another mom who randomly brought up this book and highly recommended it for my daughter who is just starting junior high school.  I downloaded it to my Kindle and started reading it that night.  I was hooked from the start and became attached to the compelling characters in this book, especially the main character, August.

The author did such an amazing job of portraying the feelings that each of the characters struggled with without sugar coating it.  August (Auggie to his family and friends) was born with facial abnormalities that prevented him from attending school until he transitioned from home schooling to middle school in fifth grade.   His condition is such that adults and kids alike can’t help but stare and/or react in some way when they first meet him.  The story follows his struggles adjusting to middle school and different chapters are written through the perspective of important people in his life.

I smiled and cried my way through this sweet story.  My 12 yr. old daughter has started reading it too and I can’t wait to talk with her about it.  I highly recommend this book for all middle-schoolers, teens and adults alike.  Since the main character is a boy, I think that boys and girls alike can appreciate this story.

My favorite quote in the book was used during a graduation speech —  J.M. Barrie’s quote from Little White Bird, “Shall we try to make a rule out of life…always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”

This quote was used in Wonder to encourage the middle school students; “If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary-the world really would be a better place…”

This book addresses bullying and gives a wonderful illustration of what happens when bystanders choose to take action and the power of kindness.

You can find Wonder on Amazon where I wasn’t surprised to find it was rated with five stars.  I am an avid reader and this is one of my new favorites that I will be recommending to friends.  You can also visit Choose Kind where people can share experiences and sign a pledge to stamp out bullying. This site also has an Educator Guide and ToolKit.


Sprigeo Heroes Project Skype Seminar at UCSB

This week, we had the great pleasure of bringing some of our Sprigeo Heroes to California via Skype.  Sprigeo participated in a seminar for middle schoolers and high schoolers – CASC’s (CA Association of Student Councils) Summer Leadership Conference, held at UC Santa Barbara.

We had three different heroes participate: Samantha, The NoBull Guys, and Howard County’s Voices 4 Change (Colin, Zayna, and Alexa).

Each of these guests had a slightly different story to tell, even though they all are part of our Heroes Project for “changing the world through their words and actions”.  Each interview ended with Q and A from the students in our seminar.

Samantha shared about her empathy for others which propels her into acts of kindness like her “Post It note day” and anonymous Valentine’s Day roses.  One of the students commented about the ripple effect of kind acts, something they had discussed in a previous session which Samantha’s interview tied right into.  The NoBull Guys shared their story of how one video project at their high school evolved into speaking engagements across the country.  Students from Howard County, Maryland (Voices 4 Change) shared with us how their coalition of students from different schools join with adults in their communities and together create positive change, whether it relates to distracted driving, bullying or recycling.   Students left inspired to go out and make a difference in their schools and communities.  We look forward to seeing some of them join our Heroes Project in the near future.  We can’t wait for you to meet them and to hear their stories!

Samantha from Michigan

Samantha from Michigan

The NoBull Guys from Ohio

The NoBull Guys from Ohio

Voices for Change (V4C) from Howard County

Voices for Change (V4C) from Howard County, Maryland

Here are just a few comments from students who participated in our session:

“I will make a change.”
“Inspired by Joe and other kids – do hope to change the world.”
“This seminar was very inspiring.”
“I loved the Skype presentations from students across the country who have effected change.”
“It motivated me to follow their example.”

Richard Guerry – Sprigeo Expert Interview

Richard Guerry also participated in the National Conference for Girl Bullying in Las Vegas earlier this month.  We caught up with Richard back at home after the conference and had an opportunity to ask him some questions surrounding the topic of internet safety.  He is the founder of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (IROC2), teaching students across the country and beyond how to be responsible with digital media.  His message is especially relevant since it creates a mindset for all digital media instead of being specific to the latest popular website or application.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/70485210 w=500&h=284]

Richard Guerry, Executive Director, Author, and International Public Speaker

Richard Guerry is the founder of the non-profit organization the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (IROC2). Throughout the 1990’s, Richard worked as an executive in the information technology field.  During his tenure, he encountered the darkest areas of the internet and discovered countless individuals unknowingly being manipulated and schemed, and their content being stolen and exploited.  In 2009, Richard left corporate America, and applied his vast experience and knowledge of digital safety to serve as the Executive Director of IROC2.org.  He now speaks to students, educators, parents, child advocates, and law enforcement personnel across the country on the importance of maintaining a digital consciousness to prevent and avoid current – and future – digital issues.  In 2010 his program received the School Safety Advocacy Council’s “Exemplary School Safety Program” Award.  In 2011, he was awarded the School Safety Advocacy Council’s “Exemplary School Safety Initiative” Award.

Since June, 2009, Richard has spoken to over 1,200 audiences across the United States and Canada ranging from avid to novice digital users, providing his audiences with an entertaining and  eye-opening live event that offers a solution-oriented concept of how to avoid any self-inflicted digital problem,  which is critical to anyone that uses a digital device.

Visit the IROC2.org website for more information on school presentations and resources for parents and educators.

Dianna Flett – Sprigeo Expert

We had the pleasure to interview Dianna Flett last week during the National Conference for Girl Bullying in Las Vegas.  Dianna is doing incredible work with girls preventing bullying behaviors through the “Girl Smarts” program.  Take a few minutes to watch her interview and learn more about how her workshops empower students before they reach middle school.  The Girl Smarts sessions cover a variety of topics including one workshop entitled, “Beauty and the Beast.”

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/69914910 w=500&h=284]

Visit the Girl Smarts website

Dianna Flett is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel having served for 21 years in various positions of increasing responsibility as a military intelligence officer. The majority of her time in the Army was spent as a leader of soldiers in the tactical arena. She has lived all over the world and travelled extensively in the Middle East as a part of her military duties. Dianna is a combat veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm receiving several awards during her service including the Bronze Star for her work with deployed units in the desert. In 2009 she reached out to her sons’ elementary school counselor, Laura Hoover, and suggested they start a program to support the strengthening and motivation of young girls prior to the middle school years. Focusing on the “whole girl”, Girl Smarts is designed to elevate, motivate and strengthen the girls sense of self before they face the challenges of their early teens. Girl Smarts works with parents, school administration and teachers to instill the essence of leadership in fourth and fifth grade girls supporting their future success.

This entry was posted on July 9, 2013. 1 Comment

Submit the Documentary – Cyberbullying Film


Last week, Sprigeo had the opportunity to attend a film screening at UCSB where bullying researchers from all over of the world had gathered for a convention.  The community was invited for a free public screening of Submit* The Documentary, a powerful chronicle of the rise of cyberbullying.

Submit was produced by Les Ottolenghi, a software professional and father who was moved to do something after seeing the story of an eleven year old boy who committed suicide after being cyberbullied. His goal is to engage everyone who sees the film to take action instead of being a bystander.

The film was powerful and captivating.  There were a variety of honest voices in the film from teens, parents, school administrators, lawyers, law makers, law enforcement, bullying experts to researchers. There was much discussion about the anonymity of cyberbullying and how much easier it is for people to say hurtful, damaging things that would not be said face to face in person. It had a good balance of experts and voices of students and families who are in the trenches.  Truly, the most heart wrenching parts were the cyberbullying stories shared by three families who were interviewed.

One of my favorite quotes in the film was by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Florida Congresswoman) who said, “The internet has opened our world to our children, but it has also opened up our children to the world.”  What I appreciated about the film is that it took it a step further after presenting the problem by focusing on solutions through empathy and engaging bystanders to take action.  The ending of the film included powerful words of wisdom shared by Congressman John Lewis.

The screening of Submit* The Documentary, inspired me to show the film to my family and have an intentional conversation about the importance of not just being a bystander.  I believe that anyone can benefit from watching this movie whether you are a teen, a parent, an educator or any community member.  If you are interested in viewing the film, you can visit the Submit* website and request your free on line screening.  Their website also includes great cyber safety resources for parents including fact sheets, discussion guides and more.  You can also follow the film on Facebook.

Julie Sorenson
Sprigeo Public Relations Director

Addressing Bullying at the Community Level

Child attending public school

Ken Ulman, Howard County Executive and Erin Reiney, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) wrote the following blog post on StopBullying.gov on July 17, 2013 about their community approach to bullying that Sprigeo is proud to be a part of:

We knew we needed to tackle bullying and cyber-harassment, after a few serious incidents focused our attention and raised awareness of these problems in our community. We examined current laws and discussed whether to push for new state legislation. We looked at how our public schools collect reports of bullying and later, how they handle them.

After much study and discussion, we decided on a multi-faceted approach that brings together a variety of community partners and offers a comprehensive way forward.  We announced our plan on May 1 and now, are looking forward to seeing the results.

The plan involves three parts:

  • First, we want to change what people think and feel about bullying. We will develop a social marketing campaign to make sure adults and children know about the severe effects of bullying and what to do when it occurs. Fortunately, we’ve got a good model. In Howard County, our library system took the lead in creating a campaign known as “Choose Civility,” which has become incredibly popular for pushing positive messages about how we should treat each other We will use the lessons from that work to develop a similar message around bullying.