Mountain View Elementary School music teacher Jonathan Dillon sits next to student Harley Farabee before the bus takes off for its afternoon route. Teachers from the Kenai school joined students for their bus rides to promote bus safety and good bus behavior on Wednesday. Photo by Kaylee Osowski/Peninsula Clarion

Mountain View Elementary School music teacher Jonathan Dillon sits next to student Harley Farabee before the bus takes off for its afternoon route. Teachers from the Kenai school joined students for their bus rides to promote bus safety and good bus behavior on Wednesday. Photo by Kaylee Osowski/Peninsula Clarion

Promoting bus kindness

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:22pm
  • News

Mountain View Elementary School teachers spent a little extra time with students on Wednesday by riding the bus routes with the kids.

Assistant Principal Karl Kircher has lead a year-long effort to encourage bus safety and good bus behavior. Bringing teachers aboard the afternoon buses to display safety and behavior brought that effort to the next level that both educators and students were excited to execute.

As he got ready to board a bus, Jonathan Dillon, music teacher at Mountain View, said he thought it was a great idea to have the teachers model the school’s three basic bus rules — stay seated, keep arms and legs inside and talk with a quiet, nice voice.

Kircher said along with the kids getting to see teachers promote the rules, they got to bond with their classroom teachers or teachers from other grades. The conversations teachers got to have and the friendships they formed with students outside of their classes were added benefits, he said.

“I spend most of my trip reenacting ‘Lilo and Stitch’ with a 7-year-old — complete with silly voices, motions and the student helping me rehearse my lines,” Dillon wrote in an email. “She was the teacher, and I was the student.”

The new bonds with students help to foster the community feeling within the school, Kircher said.

Theresa Rose, a special education teacher, wrote in an email that she talked with the students about their families and riding the bus, but when they found out she plays the videogame Minecraft with her own kids, “they went a little nuts.” She said they were having such a great time that one of the students missed his stop and had to be dropped off after everyone else.

“The entire bus ride was a fun and positive experience,” she wrote. “I had so much fun myself that I was a little disappointed … when it was over. I hope we have more opportunities to ride along.”

With about 20 to 30 students riding each bus, it can be a challenge for drivers to ensure kids are behaving and being safe. Kircher said along with meeting with drivers to discuss solutions to any problems, he and Principal Norma Holmgaard road the routes earlier in the year. Students also signed behavior contracts and learned the bus rules in a mock bus setup in the gym as well as on actual buses.

Kircher said with those projects and programs, along with others, bus kindness has improved. He expects to continue promoting bus kindness because he said like any behavior it has to be continually instilled to ensure students keep practicing it.

“It’s a pretty important issue,” Kircher. “That’s an hour of a student’s day and we certainly need to make sure that that’s an emotionally safe part of their day as well.”

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

Mountain View Elementary School students start boarding the bus Wednesday afternoon in Kenai. Teachers joined the students for the end-of-the-school-day routes. Photo by Kaylee Osowski/Peninsula Clarion

Mountain View Elementary School students start boarding the bus Wednesday afternoon in Kenai. Teachers joined the students for the end-of-the-school-day routes. Photo by Kaylee Osowski/Peninsula Clarion

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