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Jeannette parent is taking a shot at bullying

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 9:04 p.m.
Dawn Rivardo is active in the Jeannette McKee Elementary PTO and is part of the ongoing efforts at the district to prevent bullying. Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit

A parent representative for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at Jeannette McKee Elementary and Middle School, Dawn Gettemy Rivardo, is at a stage in her life where her children are most important and take up the majority of her time.

Rivardo is the wife of retired Jeannette Police Department Cpl. Al Rivardo and the mother of two children, Carsyn, 8, and Luke, 7.

The Olweus Program focuses on preventing bullying in schools and can be used at any grade level. The team at Jeannette Elementary School, of which Rivardo is a part, was trained in the curriculum by a certified trainer from the St. Vincent Prevention Projects.

The program was developed in Norway in the 1980s by psychologist Dan Olweus. According to research, schools that use Olweus' programs have reduced bullying by 50 percent in a two-year period. The training was two full days and included all of the teachers, two parent representatives and the school nurse. Rivardo's job as one of the parent representatives is to keep other parents informed of what is happening with the program and report on updates.

Rivardo would appear to be a good choice for this position as her career has focused on working with youth. She majored in administration of justice at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduation she worked for Auberle Homes for Youth in Mt. Pleasant and then went to work for the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office as the victim liaison to the Juvenile Court, where she also did victim programming with youth offenders.

It was during her time at the district attorney's office that she met her husband Al Rivardo. The couple met on a court case in which Al Rivardo was the complaining police officer and she was the victim liaison.

“We met on a case in 2000 and were married in 2002,” Rivardo said.

After leaving the district attorney's office, Rivardo finally landed at the Outside in School of Experiential Education in Greensburg where she has a myriad of duties including running group processes for youthful offenders and doing in-home family treatment. Currently, as well as working for Outside In, she is working in a temporary position as a juvenile probation officer for the Westmoreland County Juvenile Court.

On a more personal note, Rivardo is very involved with the PTO and is on the board. She also volunteers weekly at the elementary school.

Rivardo does not have any hobbies because, “I'm busy running kids. I can't leave them at home yet and there just isn't enough time in the day.”

In addition to being involved in the Olweus Program and the PTO, Rivardo is also the vice-president of the Jeannette Soccer Club and both of her children are avid soccer players. In regard to Jeannette, Rivardo said that both she and her husband “like the small town atmosphere and knowing everyone that the kids will grow up with for the next 10 years. There is a nice sense of community in Jeannette.”

Those interested in youth sports, or the Olweus Program, get to know neighbor Dawn Rivardo.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.