One for all
Originally, Moore planned to make the booklet available for her passengers only, but the response from the students was so positive that she felt compelled to take things a step further.
“I realized I’d found a way to really get kids interested in bus safety and a way to keep it in their minds,” she says. “Every time they saw a groundhog, right away they would think of school bus safety.”
Moore considered publishing the story of Gerry the Groundhog as a children’s book, but the cost of printing each book, about $5, discouraged her. She wanted the books to be affordable so that everyone had an opportunity to read and enjoy them. With regard to cost control, producing a booklet, she decided, was the better option.
“By making it a booklet, I keep the cost so low I can sell it to school districts for no more than 55 cents each,” Moore explains. “I can share the story with more people that way.” Unit cost to produce the booklet is about 33 cents each. With larger orders, she can get the unit price down to 18 cents.
A new book with a squirrel as the main character is currently in the works. The idea for this story, which will continue the school bus safety theme, focuses on the dangers of throwing objects like snowballs or rocks at a school bus. In the story, the squirrel drops acorns on a bus.
Getting the word out
Moore has sold copies of “Gerry the Groundhog” to the Massapequa-Long Island School District. She has also mailed out sample booklets, envelopes and order forms, about 400 of them, to various operations, but hasn’t heard anything yet. The process of marketing the booklet has been a learning experience for Moore.
“I originally targeted the PTAs,” she says. “But I realized I should target the principals because it’s really more of a curriculum thing.”
To assist her in getting the word out, Moore commissioned her daughter to create a Website, http://gerrythegroundhog.tripod.com. The single-page Website, which has a dedicated link for ordering the booklet, is mostly for marketing purposes, but there are pictures on the site that children can view as well.
The booklet may receive some press from another project Moore is working on with a New York state senator, William Larkin. The two are working diligently at getting a resolution passed to have May 2 recognized as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Moore says there’s a good chance that the resolution will pass, but, at press time, there has been no official approval of the resolution.
Moore’s drive to create the safety training booklet, and to contribute to the driver appreciation day program, comes from her love for children and driving school buses.
“It really had to do with writing things I feel strongly about,” says Moore about the process of creating Gerry’s story. “I really loved the pictures I had taken and felt the kids on my bus would really enjoy them too.”
Moore encourages others interested in creating similar projects to do it from the heart. She says it really isn’t about making money. I’m not going to become a millionaire from this,” she says. “But it’s a valuable tool that kids can enjoy.”