Originally broadcasted on NBC 24 News – October 27, 2021
October is Bullying Prevention Month and a local teacher is now working at the school that helped her regain confidence after being bullied herself.
Brittany Melden would hear whispers from her peers as she walked down the halls in high school.
She was bullied so badly that she enrolled in the Ohio Virtual Academy to finish her education. Now, in a full circle moment, Melden is a teacher at the Ohio Virtual Academy — but she's more than a teacher, she's a support system for students.
"My goal is to make my students feel welcomed and feel comfortable enough to come to me so they know that I am their safe space," she said.
Melden teaches kindergarten. While it seems young, even in kindergarten, Melden sees kids being mean to one another. That's why she doesn’t just teach the class curriculum, she works to fight bullying by getting students to use their words for good before it's too late.
"I mean there are still ways for kids to be mean, especially in kindergarten, like, they don't know everything yet, so maybe they say something wrong, there's still opportunities for that. So what we like to do is we are watching. The kids are always on camera, the kids are always kind of monitored and as soon as we see something, we say something."
She wants her students to learn the value of kindness. By using her own experience with bullying, Melden hopes the lessons she teaches will impact her students' lives in the future — and let them know they should always reach out if they're being bullied.
"Find that safe person, and there's always someone. And if you need it, if it's me, if it's someone else, find that safe person. Let's get you the help you need. That way you don't feel stuck anymore because it's hard, it's scary, but it does get better."
To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit ohva.k12.com