Buster in the News
Wheels on the bus …
By Lisa Tindall, Atmore Advance, 8/22/11
With hands and fingers waving in the air, children at Rachel Patterson Elementary School showed how much they learned from a special interactive session Thursday.
Buster the Talking School Bus visited with students at Rachel Patterson in an effort to offer a fun, interactive learning opportunity about bus safety and etiquette.
Susan McKenzie, principal at the school, said the program was presented in response to efforts by the school to reduce the number of bus referrals this year.
“This program is the result of a workshop this summer with our positive behavior support team,” McKenzie said. “Our goal this year is to decrease the number of bus referrals we see in the office every week throughout the year.”
McKenzie said a goal of the group last year was to decrease the number of office referrals — the number of students sent to the office for misbehaving.
“We decreased the number of office referrals by more than half last year,” McKenzie said. “But we saw that bus referrals were up. We knew it was time to do something about that.”
McKenzie said a trip to a leaders workshop this summer brought Buster to her attention.
“While I was at a workshop I was walking and a bus whistled at me,” McKenzie said. “It certainly got my attention and I stopped to speak with the program staff.”
Bryan Nash, presenter for the Crossgate Services program, said teaching safety for school bus travel is an important part of keeping students safe throughout the school day.
The hour-long presentation used the talking, miniature bus as the communicator for teaching rules of safety and proper actions while riding a school bus.
McKenzie said the presentation is just the first part of a three-phase effort to help children stay safe while using school provided transportation.
“Our goal is to reduce bus referrals and reinforce safety procedures for our students,” McKenzie said. “We will continue teaching that by having a bus on the school grounds and allowing students to actually board the bus and use what Buster has already taught them.”
McKenzie said a bus evacuation lesson will be held at the school within the next few weeks to help emphasize how to react in case of an emergency.
“I am always willing to try anything to teach our students how to be safe in any situation,” McKenzie said. “We are hopeful these lessons will make a difference. We will be monitoring our bus referrals to see how effective these lessons are.”
Funding for the presentation Thursday was provided through Helping Schools funds given to area schools.
“The money we used came from the funds we receive from the ‘Helping Schools’ tags people purchase,” McKenzie said. “The use of those funds doesn’t cost the school system anything and we are happy to be able to have those funds for these kinds of programs.”
Nash is a 30-year veteran of student transportation and has been a safety inspector for the State of Alabama in addition to holding the position of director of transportation for the Tuscaloosa County School System.
“Buster” is used to teach students school bus safety from the time they leave their homes including the danger zone, the bus stop and other areas of attention.
Nash said statistics show that 53 percent of all students in the country ride school buses and that an average of 10 passengers are killed each year in school bus crashes over a 10-year period.
Crossgate Services is based in Warrior and can be reached at 205-542-4675 or at their Website at www.crossgatebussafety.com.