Teaching them young, Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon instructs incoming kindergarten students on school bus safety at the start of every school year.
The district, which is the fifth-largest in Oregon, offers the class for new kindergarten students and their families six times over a three-day period. “We teach how to load, unload and ride the school bus safely,” explained Transportation Director Kim Crabtree.
The class begins with a short Winnie-the-Pooh themed video on safe school bus practices, during which a healthy snack is served. A question-and-answer session follows for the students, then they and the accompanying adults head out to the school buses. Students ride the bus first with their parent or other guardian, and then by themselves.
At the conclusion of the class, the student participants are awarded a “graduation” prize of a coloring book and bookmark with school bus safety rules on it.
Crabtree said she hopes that other districts may consider adopting such a program, to instill in students the good school bus habits that are necessary for increased safety. “I have been in transportation for over 20 years, and our district is the first that I have worked with that has a program for incoming kinders,” she stated.
Crabtree’s assistance with this annual program highlights her dedication to efficiency and student safety. Fleet Manager Keith Bowers also commended Crabtree on her effective management and use of technology, which allows the rapidly-growing district “to have a transportation department that has the ability to grow with it.”
How to properly behave on and around the big yellow bus is the focus of the School Bus Safety Week, which is held annually during the third full week in October.