Tallahassee principal Rocky Hanna remembers being bullied
By Shaqueria Howard
Rocky Hanna remembers being bullied as a student at Leon High School in the late 1970s and today he is principal of the same school. “There was a lot of physical abuse and name calling,” he said. “Black kids knew I wasn’t black…and white kids knew I wasn’t white…it was a living hell for me.”As a teen, Hanna said he was scared to go to the bathroom at times, and even went home with torn clothes after being physically abused by other students because of his Hispanic heritage.
Hanna said bullying has evolved from being more physical abuse to more verbal, with social media, texting and Twitter. “The rules of engagement have changed from physical abuse to mental abuse,” he said. Now, Hanna uses those negative bullying incidents in a positive way by making sure his school is bully free. Hanna said he often talks with his students, gets to know them personally and once he builds that relationship with his students they become more flexible with telling him information.
Alicia Turner, a 2010 Leon High School graduate and current Florida A&M University student, spoke about her experience when Hanna was the principal. “As a student, Hanna was always somebody I felt like I could talk to and connect with. He was a hands-on principal. Hanna did not tolerate bullying or unfair treatment. He made his office a safe haven and I believe that over the years that is what has kept bullying incident numbers down,” said Turner.
Usually in high school, principals are more strict with their students and don’t have personal relationships with them. Building those relationships with his students is what makes Hanna so special as a principal. He comes to his students with a different approach. Hanna said he makes sure every student has an equal opportunity, and a chance to express themselves.