A Message from Superintendent Pero: Teaching students about personal strengths, positive connections and asking for help

Sources of Strength logo The safety and well-being of students and staff are priorities for PCSD. There are many ways the District promotes physical safety, emotional security and general well-being. One evidence-based program offered at both high schools that supports all three is the Sources of Strength program. In partnership with the University of Rochester’s Department of Psychiatry, students and staff at Mendon and Sutherland participate in training and ongoing activities to help prevent violence, suicide, bullying and substance abuse. This program empowers peer leaders and caring adults to impact their school and world through the power of positive connections, hope, help and strength. It is based upon a relationship model to positively change social norms about help-seeking behavior.

Participants in Sources of Strength are a diverse group of students and adults from different cultures and groups within our schools who work to ensure that during difficult times, no one gets so overwhelmed that they turn to violence or suicide. Sources of Strength participants learn about warning signs and how to approach a trusted adult who can help and provide the intervention necessary for themselves or a struggling person. As with any urgent or emergency event, students are also instructed to call police authorities at 911.

See Something, Say Something

Research tells us that when someone threatens violence or suicide, it is known by at least one other person before an incident takes place. Sources of Strength works to prevent tragedies by developing positive personal strengths in students and by creating a climate that breaks this silence and makes it OK to say something in order to prevent a possible tragedy.

The Sources of Strength program has natural connections to the Department of Homeland Security’s See Something, Say Something campaign recently adopted by the District. The See Something, Say Something campaign encourages the public to engage in protecting communities through awareness-building, partnerships, and other outreach.

Students Provide a Powerful Protective Factor

Students have the power to promote change and build a more positive culture and climate in Pittsford Schools. This is widely recognized as a protective factor which promotes individual safety, group security and well-being. Students also have great power to help those in need as they are encouraged to say something if they see something.  

In the last two years, over 200 students and 40 staff members have been trained in the Sources of Strength upstream relationship model. We now have hundreds of peer leaders who are impacting their social groups by cascading the message of strengths and protective factors, as well as encouraging others to say something if help is needed for themselves or someone else.

Our research shows that this model and participating in Sources of Strength is working. Over 90% of our high school students report being exposed to Sources of Strength programs. Of those students, over 60% report an increase in their skills to prevent violence and/or suicidal actions, and report they:

  • are better able to handle difficult times in their own lives, which is significant to prevent violence and/or suicidal action

  • know more about how to say something and get help for a struggling friend or themselves

  • know more trusted adults they can turn to and get help for themselves or peers

  • have increased their personal sources of strength

There is also a mechanism available to report a concern anonymously. An electronic form is available on the District website, and once completed, it is routed to the proper administrator. The form can be found here. In urgent situations, it’s always best to call 911 first.

For more information about Sources of Strength and the District’s See Something, Say Something programs, please visit the District website here.

“Wheel of Strengths” is as a visual representation of each individual’s potential “Sources of Strength.”

“Wheel of Strengths” is as a visual representation of each individual’s potential “Sources of Strength.”