Several years ago, Bob Stutman spoke to my three TEC groups. Stutman was the "head narc" for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York office. He had 1,000 DEA agents reporting to him.
After a 25-year career with the DEA, Bob started a consulting firm that works with corporations and communities throughout the United States in dealing with the issue of substance abuse. Bob has a family connection in Wisconsin. We are fortunate to have him speak to TEC groups in Milwaukee on a regular basis.
Bob’s TEC presentations describe the drug problem in the workplace and the drug problem at home. On the corporate side, he challenges CEOs who think they have adequate substance abuse programs, but don’t.
On the family side, he confronts our members who are essentially clueless when it comes to the substance abuse going on in our communities and our homes. Most of us had no idea that drugs with names like "special K" or "roofies" or "easy lay" existed, much less what they were or what they were doing to our kids.
In addition to speaking to TEC groups and working with corporations on their substance abuse programs, Bob has developed a model that he has introduced in several school districts to deal more effectively with drug problems.
Several TEC members over the years have sponsored Bob’s presentation and program for their local school districts. One such member, Paul Grunau, president of the Grunau Company, sponsored Bob at Whitefish Bay Middle School two years ago. That is, Paul paid all the expenses relative to Bob’s appearance. There was no cost to the school district.
The initial day-long presentation was divided into four segments. Bob spoke to Whitefish Bay Middle School seventh and eighth graders in the morning. Following the morning presentation, students were offered the opportunity to speak with Bob confidentially, on a one-on-one basis about anything they wanted to talk about.
Approximately 400 students attended the morning session. More than half asked to speak to Bob confidentially after the presentation. That’s 200 13- and 14-year-old Whitefish Bay kids asking to speak to the "bald drug guy!"
After speaking with the kids, Bob spoke with the faculty and administration of the school. Paul Grunau, as the sponsor, was invited to attend. The session was after a TEC meeting that day. Paul invited me to attend, as well.
Stutman made it clear that based on his experience and the turnout of students who wanted to meet with him individually that Whitefish Bay Middle School had a problem and whatever they were doing in terms of a substance abuse program wasn’t working.
The faculty and administration listened politely.
In the evening, Bob spoke to the Whitefish Bay community as a whole, with concerned parents and students in attendance. The title of the evening presentation was "Not My Kid."
Some school districts in Wisconsin have embraced the follow-up, ongoing Stutman substance abuse program. Typically, Bob’s school programs are sponsored by TEC members. Andy Burkart, CEO of Burkart-Heisdorf Agency, brought the program to Sheboygan South High School. Rhonda Sullivan. president of Lavelle Industries, did the same with Burlington High School.
Paul Grunau offered to sponsor Stutman at Whitefish Bay High School. The principal, Bill Henkle, declined Paul’s offer. Henkle indicated they had their own program and didn’t see the need for anyone from the outside to offer assistance.
The response from Whitefish Bay Middle School was just as surprising. The administration actually became defensive when it came to their substance abuse program efforts. They didn’t want any more of Stutman’s program. The follow up, ongoing pieces that have been effective at Sheboygan South and Burlington High Schools never got beyond the principal’s desk in Whitefish Bay.
It is my understanding that Maddie Kiefer, the student who died last weekend from an apparent drug overdose, did not attend Whitefish Bay Middle School prior to enrolling at Whitefish Bay High School. If she had, she might have been in attendance when Stutman was there two years ago. Perhaps Bob could have made a difference – if he had been afforded the opportunity.
If you are interested in information regarding Bob Stutman’s school programs, please contact me. I will be pleased to e-mail the description of the program and the fees involved. Please consider sponsoring Bob in your school district. This is an opportunity to build something positive out of the tragic death of Maddie Kiefer.
We need to expand the conversation beyond the walls of the school district administration. We need to do it now.
Dennis Ellmaurer is a principal of Globe National Corp., a Milwaukee firm working exclusively with sellers of small businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. Ellmaurer also is a chairman of The Executive Committee (TEC), facilitating three CEO groups in southeastern Wisconsin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.