Missouri school bus drivers and students are learning bus safety and bullying prevention through ZoeBus, a company that offers interactive training, workshops and assemblies with a focus on good character.
Founder Gina Crump, a veteran educator and certified school bus driver, holds the belief that behavior on the school bus directly impacts onboard safety. Classroom expectations of good conduct and character should be fostered on school buses, and this starts with the driver, according to Crump.
“I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘rules without relationship equal rebellion,’” she told SBF in an interview. “Drivers must make kids feel valued, treat them with respect and build good rapport with them before expecting respect back.”
ZoeBus holds training sessions that teach school bus drivers the importance of being role models for their students and demonstrating good character at all times.
“Kids pick up on everything,” Crump said. “How we respond to situations is very important. We can’t get angry about bad drivers on the road, and we must be able to laugh at ourselves if we make a mistake.”
Crump also demonstrates ways bus drivers can spot the red flags of bullying before a problem arises, and shares school bus safety procedures — such as assigned seating — through PowerPoint presentations and activities. The training also functions as an open space for drivers to network, share techniques and talk about difficulties.
Crump said ZoeBus assemblies and workshops for students have been growing in popularity among Missouri elementary schools.
The ZoeBus itself — a school bus equipped with chrome-spiked wheels (to attract students' attention), flat-screen televisions and a sound system — is a mobile classroom. Inside, students learn how to “respect the ride” by taking responsibility for their own behavior on the school bus. Crump personalizes her presentations to fit the expectations of each school.
“The response has been very positive,” Crump said. “It’s because the program is unique and effective because kids actually board the bus — you’re teaching them directly in the setting they’re learning about.”
Crump has also conducted safety workshops for older students. She focuses on leading by example, and equates their roles on the bus to their responsibilities at home.
“Students are continually asked to take care of younger siblings at home — it’s no different on the bus,” Crump said.
Bound by insurance and a 500-mile radius, Crump is doing what she can in Missouri to advocate school bus safety and good character. However, she hopes to someday expand her fleet and sponsor ZoeBus programs and buses in different parts of the country.