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March 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Promoting the Good Work of Your Drivers

Parents and school administrators, among others, should know of the many success stories involving school bus drivers. Working with public information officers, distributing newsletters and nominating drivers for awards are great ways to grow awareness.

by Thomas McMahon, Managing Editor

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Bus becomes place of learning

The following article was written by Kimberly Eloe, communications specialist at Dallas County Schools, to promote the good deeds of one of the agency’s drivers.

Brenetta Joseph is not an ordinary bus driver for Dallas County Schools.

Daily, Ms. Joseph, whose friends call her “Sam,” goes out of her way to motivate and encourage students to discover their potential to achieve academically. In an effort to “bridge the gap” between a student’s learning experiences at school and home, Joseph started tutoring the students on her K-4 overflow route in DeSoto.

“I’d like to think that if my son was having trouble in school, somebody would take time to help us,” Joseph says. “Teachers and parents have so much going on that it can be difficult to provide one-on-one academic attention to struggling students.”

Anne Marie St. John, parent of two students from Joseph’s bus, says that Joseph visits weekly with her students’ teachers to get their spelling lists.

“I have a student who is in foster care and another from New Orleans,” St. John says. “Both are struggling academically, and Ms. Joseph gets their spelling lists each day and helps them learn their words on the way to and from school.”

Joseph, a former Beaumount firefighter, says that she likes to get off the bus and look at the students’ classroom projects and accomplishments.

“I work with all of my students,” she says. “If they’re doing poorly in school, they will have low self-esteem that carries into the rest of their lives.” Positive peer pressure is one of the methods Joseph uses to encourage her students to study on the bus. Pairing academically struggling students with students who are doing well in school allows Joseph to concentrate on driving.

“The students want to be involved with the activity going on during the trips to and from school, and that involves studying on my bus,” she says.

Terry Penn, executive director of transportation at Dallas County Schools, says that Ms. Joseph has demonstrated her dedication and compassion for the students she sees on her bus by going above and beyond the job description of a bus driver.

“Ms. Joseph drives a school bus for Dallas County Schools because she cares about her students,” Penn said. “I applaud her dedication and deep concern for the academic success of the students she transports.”

After Joseph tutored St. John’s students on their spelling words, both showed improvement on their weekly test.

“This week, both of them passed,” St. John says. “One got 100 percent.”

Following the positive affirmation from so many parents, DeSoto Independent School District recently hired Joseph as a substitute teacher. Joseph, who is just seven credit hours short of a college degree, says that she is looking forward to having more time to work with students.

“Working with students does my heart good,” she says. “I learn from them daily.”

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