Vecera Takes Challenge to ‘Cultivate Communio’

Claire Rotherham, Staff Writer. Journalism

Notre Dame Academy has given Mrs. Gina Vecera the title of Leadership Development Consultant, or “Cultivating Communio.” It has also given her a tough challenge.

After the YRBS survey was taken last year by students at Notre Dame, the administration was shocked at the results, which led to the hiring of  Vecera, a long-term substitute for Senora VW as well as the mother of three Tritons. She is also a guidance counselor by training.

Since Vecera was so familiar with the atmosphere of NDA, she also was shocked at the results of the test.

As a substitute and a parent involved in the Notre Dame Academy community, she saw everything as  “super positive and wonderful, so when I was reading this data it was a little concerning.”

In order to get as much input from students as possible, Vecera first went to Student Government.

After hearing from them, Vecera was informed many students do not take the YRBS survey as seriously as they should.

Vecera also realized that the word “bullying” is not the correct word to be using when speaking with students.

Thus Vecera decided to use different words regarding the problems at NDA, such as judgment, cliques, exclusion and shaming.

NDA students also feel there is a separation among the student population based on race, wealth and smarts.

These are all problems that Vecera is trying to fix, or at least improve.

“I think at the end of the day it’s going to come back to conflict management,” said Vecera.

Conflict management is having the tools to resolve a fight instead of escalating it.

Over the past years, many speakers have given speeches at NDA about bullying and different ways to fix it, but Vecera believes, “There are a lot of cool things out there that don’t incorporate a speaker or pep rally.”

Vecera is hoping to share with the students and parents of Notre Dame the research she has found and is hoping to make an impact, hoping to better the situation.

“I love it because I love researching and learning. I’ve really loved getting to know the teachers differently, but it’s really hard and overwhelming and big. Somedays I’m having difficult conversations about this school, and now that I’m here and hearing about kids that are hurting, it’s breaking my heart. It was easier when I didn’t see flaws and saw it as a perfect place,” said Vecera.