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National Authority on School Violence to Speak Feb. 8 at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Jan. 24, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — Nearly 37 years after Martin Mogensen was killed by a troubled student at a Wisconsin junior high school, his daughters are helping make it possible for current and future teachers to learn more about school climate and how it relates to bullying and school violence.

Bill BondThe Feb. 8 Martin Mogensen Education Lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which was started by Marti Mogensen and Margaret Mogensen Nelson, will feature Bill Bond, one of the country's preeminent authorities on school violence and related issues.

"We often do a good job dealing with physical bullying, but we do a poor job understanding how harmful words can be to kids and how long-lasting the damage can be," said Bond, whose presentation is titled "Words Hurt the Heart: Understanding Bullying in the Context of School Violence." "Kids go to school every day and are ridiculed and humiliated. That's counterproductive to everything we're trying to do in education."

Bond has personal experience with school violence and its tragic consequences. He was the principal of Heath High School in Paducah, Ky., when a 14-year-old freshman shot and killed three of his fellow students in 1997. The gunman wounded five more students, leaving one paralyzed from the waist down.

In 2000, after the last of the students wounded in the shootings graduated, Bond retired and became a resident practitioner for safe and orderly schools for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In this role, he travels the country sharing his experiences with school violence and what he's learned since the 1997 shootings.

Mogensen and Nelson created the Martin Mogensen lecture series for education students three years ago to honor their father, a 1952 UW-Eau Claire alumnus who became one of the first victims of school shootings in this country when he was killed in 1969 by a student in the Tomah school where he served as principal.

"In the years since my father's death it seems 'school violence' has become a common household word and occurrence," Marti Mogensen, now a teacher in California, said of the importance of Bond's message. "Teachers, in many ways, really are on the front lines of most of the issues confronting our society. We need to understand the causes of violence and how it manifests itself as well as how to respond and comfort in its wake and aftermath."

Educators and students are receptive to his message because he brings credibility to the subject of school violence in a way that few can, Bond said. For example, after Bond spoke at a Montana school a student told administrators that a classmate had a gun and ammunition at the school. It was Bond's presentation that prompted the student to tell administrators before any violence occurred. "It's rewarding to know that I sometimes have a positive effect on a situation such as that one," Bond said.

Bond also travels to schools where shootings have occurred, offering advice and a shoulder to lean on as administrators and teachers try to move forward after a tragedy. He arrives within hours of a shooting and stays several days, he said, noting that he charges the schools nothing, but his travel is supported by a corporate sponsor, the insurance company AIG-VALIC.

"I'm never turned away once I'm at the school," Bond said of his unannounced visits. "I'm there to refocus them on what they need to do. The role I've given myself is to instill confidence in the teachers and administrators; I reassure them that they're doing the right thing. It's something I do because it's important me."

Nelson, a journalist, and Bond met a little more than a year ago when both were in Red Lake, Minn., shortly after a high school student there gunned down nine people and then took his own life. "Margaret was there in a reporting capacity but the questions she asked seemed very personal," Bond said of meeting Nelson. "After talking with her and learning about her father's death, I realized she had the same personal feelings that I had when it comes to school violence."

After meeting Bond, Nelson suggested that he be a featured speaker in the Mogensen lecture series.

“Violence in schools is not a new phenomenon, but the magnitude of recent incidents of students killing students has directed renewed attention to identifying and initiating preventative measures," said Katherine Rhoades, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at UW-Eau Claire. "Learning from a professional like Bill Bond, an expert in the field, represents an outstanding opportunity for future and current educators and other school personnel as well as interested community members. Students talk and think about violence because it is an unfortunate reality darkening education's doorstep."

Since 1974, the earliest data he had available, Bond said there have been 42 school shootings in the United States. "You go a while without one and you think you're over the hump," Bond said. "Then last year we had shootings at three schools."

Mogensen and Nelson, both graduates of UW-Eau Claire, and other family members and friends support the lecture series through the Martin Mogensen Education Lecture and Scholarship Fund of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. The fund affirms Martin Mogensen's belief that teaching is the highest calling.

The 2006 Martin Mogensen Education Lecture will begin at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in Phillips Recital Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center.

Earlier in the day, Bond will lead training sessions with area teachers to share strategies for developing and maintaining a healthy school climate.

For more information about the lecture, contact Kimera Way, executive director of development at UW-Eau Claire, at (715) 836-5180 or waykk@uwec.edu. Way can provide reporters with contact information for Bond, Mogensen and Nelson.

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JB

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