Training Program Merits Acclaim

Posted on December 1, 2001

At the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT) Annual Conference last month in Nashville, Tenn., the Hillsborough County (Fla.) Schools Transportation Department was presented the International Bus Driver Training/Safety Award. To a program that requires 16 more hours of driver training than the state of Florida mandates, this honor comes as no great shock. Director of Transportation Beverly DeMott, whose name was originally etched on the award, explained to SBF Plus how the training and safety staff at Hillsborough County truly deserves all the credit. SBF Plus: What was your first reaction when you heard that you had won the award? DeMott: We were thrilled. I have been director for only a year and a half, but our training and safety specialists have been working on our program for years, and they deserve the award. We are having the name on the award changed because the people who earned it are William Hough and John Saffold. They developed, implemented and expanded our driver training and safety program. SBF Plus: Can you describe a few of the reasons why your department was selected? DeMott: I think what did it was the development of a set of 13 video training sessions that reinforce and illustrate important training and safety concepts. These videos were adopted by the Florida Department of Education and have been disseminated to other school districts around the state. Accompanying these video sessions, there is also a set of transparencies that cover driver training topics such as the driver’s role and responsibility, how to familiarize yourself with the school bus, how the vehicle operates, traffic control devices, accident procedures and other issues that drivers need to be trained in. SBF Plus: What was the motivation behind the development of these tapes and transparencies? DeMott: We wanted to create more thorough training for our school bus drivers and more support for them during and after the training. I don’t think there was a deficit in the training necessarily, but we thought it would help to prepare our drivers. Also it is a tool for driver retention because these resources prevent them from getting culture shock when they finally get on a bus loaded with 65 students. We wanted to make sure that when they finished the training they knew what to expect and were prepared. SBF Plus: What other innovative training programs are you using? DeMott: We’ve recently purchased a set of commercial videos and workbooks on bus discipline to supplement our training. Also, our district now uses a comprehensive guide for teachers to set up student management procedures in the classroom that we adapted to the school buses. And of course, we have the Transcript, a bimonthly department newsletter that gives constant training reminders both to bus drivers and attendants.

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