Jeremy Rubenstein wants students to know that they have the power to make their schools bullying-free.
“Bullying is such an issue that I believe everybody has a story with it,” Rubenstein said. “And it doesn’t just affect the person who is being bullied, and the person who is doing the bullying.”
It’s a communitywide problem, he said, and it takes an entire community to try to fix it.
The Manheim Township man was in a two-person juggling show, touring schools around the country, when educators told him they were looking for a fun and interactive program that would teach about bullying prevention.
So, drawing on his journalism and theater education, he spent months researching the subject of bullying.
The result was “Box Out Bullying,” an interactive assembly, which Rubenstein has presented in schools in Lancaster County, and everywhere from Harlem, N.Y., to Tennessee.
The show stresses the importance of telling adults when bullying occurs, and explores the different forms bullying can take. Rubenstein avoids using the word, “bully,” because, he explained, “I want to avoid giving the word power.”
A centerpiece of the show is a specially constructed box, which works not only as a prop but as a metaphor. “Box out is a term in basketball, where you prevent somebody from getting in,” Rubenstein explained.
Rubenstein said that tens of thousands of students have seen “Box Out Bullying” since he launched the show in 2008. He said he’s learned a lot about running a small business, and draws great satisfaction from reading the comments of students on the show’s Facebook page and website (boxoutbullying.com).
Rubenstein said he thinks his mother, Karen, who is the head of the Montessori Academy of Lancaster, is proud that he’s conveying a “socially meaningful message” to schoolchildren.
“Something that I’ve learned is that the issues students are facing are the same, as are the solutions,” he said.
Hometown: Lancaster. I spent my formative years (2 months to 12 years) living in Los Angeles.
Family: Father, David; mother, Karen; younger brother, Robby.
Education: Degrees in theater, journalism and history, from Pennsylvania State University; certificate in arts education from Stages of Learning, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and certificate in Eccentric Performance from The Celebration Barn Theater, South Paris, Maine.
The first role I played on stage: I went to a day school in Southern California that was big on the performing arts. When I was in first grade we did an original musical, “Hello Golem.” We did little musical skits, where I was Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
I am inspired by: Just living! I don’t look for inspiration, it just comes.
An actor I admire: Steve Martin. He’s in a lot of my favorite movies, he’s a great writer and musician, and he’s done it all.
My favorite form of theater: Long form improvisational comedy. … There’s something exhilarating about being thrown into the void of not knowing what’s going to come next!
A stage skill I never mastered, but wish I had: I only started taking dance classes in college. I haven’t mastered it, but I am learning.
My favorite book: “Truth in Comedy,” by Del Close. It’s a great introduction on how to connect with an audience, your scene partners, and being sincere.
If I had a theme song, it would be: Composed by John Williams. He’s amazing — basically, any memorable movie theme song, he’s written.
My favorite music: Oldies. The songs, they’re classic! And I love a cappella groups.
What my friends don’t know about me: It’s a goal of mine to be interviewed by Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air,” on NPR.
What I least enjoy about living out of a suitcase: Losing things on the road. I’ve left so many cell phone chargers and socks behind.
What I most enjoy about living out of a suitcase: Seeing places and meeting people whom I would otherwise not have seen or met, and being in a place where I, one, don’t need to make my bed and, two, breakfast is included.
My favorite place: In the United States is State College during a Penn State home game. …In Europe, my favorite place is Grand Place, this massive, beautiful, central square in Brussels, Belgium.
What I do for fun: I work! When you’re having fun, it’s not really a job!
How I’d describe my world view: I really like the quote by Rabbi Hillel, one of the most influential scholars in Jewish history, who said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
What is most important to me: Being able to go to bed at night and knowing that, that day, I did something, I made a difference.
By SUZANNE CASSIDY, Staff Writer, Lancaster Online. Suzanne Cassidy is a staff writer for the Sunday News. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.