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Rodger Dinwiddie

National Level Speaker and Counselor

Rodger Dinwiddie has been the CEO STARS-Nashville, an evidenced-based Student Assistance Program as recognized by the National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices, since 1986. Prior to joining STARS, Rodger served as the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization working with juvenile court referrals. He also was a classroom teacher in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for 7 years. Rodger is also a Certified Prevention Specialist – Level II. He is a certified trainer and Olweus Technical Assistance Consultant for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and Safe Dates Program, and he serves as the Tennessee State Olweus Coordinator in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, Clemson University, and Hazelden Educational Publishing, where he currently provides consultation in the areas of best practices in bullying prevention and intervention, school climate improvement, and the development of social emotional competencies. In addition, he provides consultation to both businesses and school districts to assist leaders in building strong(er) relationships in the workplace. Rodger is also the Immediate Past-President of the International Bullying Prevention Association. He is a native Nashvillian, where he is involved in numerous community organizations, including the Nashville Rotary Club. He and former CEO of Oasis Center, Hal Cato, were named Nashvillians of the Year by the Nashville Scene for their work in the collaboration and development of the Youth Opportunity Center, a partnership between Oasis Center and STARS.


's Sessions

Rodger’s presentation will discuss how bullying is a common, sometime severe form of school violence, often misidentified and underreported. As statistics report the harmful impact of bullying on academics, it is imperative that adults and students be equipped with the skills to address this critical social issue. This presentation will focus on the facts and myths of bullying, how to identify and confront perpetrators, cyber bullying issues, and how to help victims of bullies.

The success of students in the school environment is contingent upon the culture and climate that adults establish. Emotional Intelligence is a great predicator of success in life and work because “when people feel good they work at their best” (Goleman 2005). This workshop focuses on the core competences required to create a work environment that allows people to work on purpose using their gifts and strengths. Research shows that 77% of employers believe that “soft skills” are just as important as “hard skills” (CareerBuilder 2014). People that master emotional intelligence have the ability to design their lives and workplaces.

School-based programs focusing on social and emotional learning foster empathy, prevent bullying, promote healthy relationships and enhance student conduct. This session will focus on the development of one of the most important social emotional competencies, caring for others, or the development of empathy. The larger the student’s social network, the stronger the student’s connection to school. An environment in which students experience connection, both to school and peers, is an environment in which relational aggression (bullying, harassment, fighting) decreases. Highly connected students, attending schools where empathy flourishes, are less likely to be perpetrators or victims of aggression.

This workshop will explore the difficult challenge of identifying the differences between bullying and actual acts of a criminal nature. This session seeks to help define what bullying behavior is, while offering important safety precautions and empowerment techniques to assist schools and bystanders to address bullying. Topics will also include best practices for incorporating bullying prevention efforts in a comprehensive social emotional learning framework.
It is particularly difficult for schools to address issues which are often unseen and unreported. For that reason this session will explore issues of appropriate school policy and recent recommendations from the Office of Civil Rights and Department of Education regarding steps to address bullying and harassment. Cyber-bullying and actions schools can take to address this growing form of aggression will be addressed as well as practical suggestions for schools to consider regarding best practices in bullying prevention.

This focus of this session will be directed toward a review of strategies and practices that have proved successful in assisting schools to effectively address bullying, harassment and intimidation. Participants will evaluate their bullying prevention implementation strategies and will be able to discuss, with colleagues, the evaluation of their strategies using the Bullying Prevention Implementation Assessment Matrix. In addition, participants will be able to dialogue with school representatives who have demonstrated effectiveness in the implementation of best practices in bullying prevention. By participating in this session, school personnel will be able to better assess their use of best practices.

In an era of high tech, low touch communications, this session will help adults focus on the importance of having crucial conversations with colleagues, parents, and students in schools, community organizations or businesses.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Understand the importance of valuing differences, designing new and lasting relationships
  • Understand the importance of crucial conversations with colleagues, parents, students, community organizations and businesses
  • Understand how to deal with relationship breakdowns, make effective requests, coordinate action and achieve business results
  • Operate in a strengths based leadership model, creating a productive and emotionally intelligent work environment

Conflicts due to miscommunication are inevitable, crucial conversations a part of the solution!


“Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” ~ Dr. Charles Figley
This session will explore the necessity of honestly assessing our own, as well as our systems’, level of compassion fatigue. In this era of extremely high stress in our professional and personal lives, it is extremely important that we have a clear plan for self-care. Differences between “burnout” and “compassion fatigue’’ will also be addressed. Most importantly this session will explore how to counter the impact of compassion fatigue!

Why do some youths overcome seemingly insurmountable odds during childhood to become productive and happy adults? No argument exists about one key element: Resilience. In this session we will explore the key elements of a resilient human being as well as the key elements of a compassionate, trauma informed school. Researchers have found strong connections between social skills development and success in early adulthood, as well as how schools that create compassionate classrooms and foster compassionate attitudes by their school staff, help both develop and foster resilience. Special focus will be given toward those students that have been exposed to stress and trauma in their lives.