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Debbie Phelps talks role of educator on preventing underage drinking

Parents take it upon themselves to start tough conversations with their kids at home – but, teachers, do you keep that conversation going in the classroom? What red flags do you look for to better understand what your students are going through, and what are the important things to remember at the beginning of the school year?

As a teacher with more than 40 Back to School seasons under my belt, I believe each year we must renew our commitment to continuing the dialogue with our students about peer pressures, like underage drinking. Each year presents new challenges: one class may be laid-back, the kids who get along with everyone. However, the next year you might be dealing with rebellious risk-takers. How do you adjust? How do you create the safest atmosphere for your students?

Have open eyes and open ears, especially at the beginning of the school year. It’s important to recognize what obstacles you may face early on this fall. If you define certain behaviors as unacceptable from the get-go, and explain why they’re unacceptable, you’ll have a better chance of getting through to your students.

Kids will experiment, but you can play a leading role in teaching them the dangers and repercussions of pressures like underage drinking. What will you do this year to better your classroom and keep your students safe? 

Debbie Phelps is widely recognized as an innovative, energetic and talented leader and master teacher with more than three decades of teaching and administrative experience. She is the Principal of Windsor Middle School in the Baltimore County Public Schools system.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*

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