When you step into one of Autauga County (Ala.) Schools' newest classrooms, you'll see the usual chalkboard, school supplies, and educational drawings. But these aren't just any classrooms. These are aboard two of the district's old school buses.
The school system just completed The Bus Project, and the classrooms are ready to roll. The two buses will serve multiple schools. Each school has an electric hookup to plug in the bus to use the technology and heating/air units. There also is an awning on each bus for additional seating. Teachers at the schools sign up for weekly time slots and the transportation department delivers the bus to the school. Think of it as an on-campus field trip.
The STREAM bus focuses on art through literature and will serve grades K-4. There are ready-made kits with children's books and art projects. There are also lots of materials for art projects with which teachers can freelance. The STEM bus will serve grades 5-8 and focuses on maker-space activities and STEM projects. Like the STREAM bus, this bus has ready-made kits for teachers to "grab and go," along with materials and tools for maker space activities. The idea is to ensure teachers across all comfort levels can participate.
The buses served as a learning opportunity before the transformation even began. High school students at the district's Technology Center, which prepares students for entry into the workforce, assisted with tearing out the bus seats, repairing and laying the floor, welding a ramp for handicap accessibility, and more. Local artists, who graduated from Autuga County Schools, painted the buses.
"COVID has hindered many activities and this was a way to jumpstart the idea so that students could have additional educational experiences while maintaining protocols," said Janice Stockman, principal of Prattville Junior High School.