Local teen tells Charterhouse students about bullying

Maggie Laughlin, 17, left, a senior at Central High School, sits with Charterhouse student Kagen Conner, 8, of Harrisonburg, inside his classroom at the Edinburg school on Nov. 17. Laughlin volunteers her time at the school educating an anti-bullying theme to the school's students. Rich Cooley/Daily

EDINBURG – Local high school student Maggie Laughlin stops by the Charterhouse School – Edinburg every other Wednesday to teach kids there that “bullying doesn’t have to be tolerated in schools.”

The 17-year-old Central High School senior has been working with the special needs students since September.  Maggie works with kids of all ages at the school to help them understand the different types of bullying, which includes physical, verbal and cyber bullying.

Maggie said her personal experiences with bullying allowed her to connect with the kids in a way that others can’t. She has witnessed different forms of bullying in schools and has had rumors spread about her.

“It gets to the point where you have to understand that words do hurt and I was hurt a lot,” she said.

But she ignored the gossip and turned her experiences into something positive.

“I always like to think that there’s good in every person and the people that were mean to me and talked about me, I don’t hate them.”

She said she visits Charterhouse School because “I think that there is good in every single kid here and that all of them have a purpose and I want to help them find that purpose and help them realize that they are not alone and they all have a future.”

She structures her instruction to the students better understand what they can do to keep bullying out of their school.

“When I come in, I make lesson plans. I do different lesson plans for different age groups because it depends on how I can get them to interact with me,” she explained.

The inspiration to teach bullying came about when Maggie competed in the Miss Virginia Teen Pageant and needed a platform. She has continued to come back to the school ever since then.

“I love to help the kids and they really mean something to me, so it’s important to me that I keep coming and doing this,” she said.

Charterhouse School Principal Tonya Salley-Goodwin said, “I thought it was a wonderful idea because our students have disabilities and are at a more at-risk state to be able to experience bullying.”

Salley-Goodwin wants her students to understand that “there are resources out there to help them come up with a way to deal with bullying and have some mediation between peers.”

She said that Maggie provides these tools to her students in a way they can understand.

“Our ultimate goal here is to have our students return back to public school. And with those tools in their belt, I feel like they will be able to be academically successful,” she said.

When she graduates high school, Maggie said she hopes to attend college and become a communications major so she can pursue a career in broadcast media. She noted hopes to continue her work and find a way to help others overcome bullying.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com