Ensuring all students have a positive experience and safe environment while riding the school bus, the “Peaceful School Bus Program” was implemented this year at Metzgar Elementary School in the Greensburg Salem School District in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
The program, designed to decrease inappropriate student behaviors while creating a climate of respect and cooperation for school bus drivers, was created by Metzgar Elementary Guidance Counselor Jessica Pritts and Principal Tina Federico.
“Our goal is to build strong, positive relationships among students and the bus drivers,” said Jessica Pritts. “We want to teach students to be accountable for their actions, take pride in themselves, their peers and ‘bus group’ and take responsibility for what happens on their bus.”
Earlier this year, staff at Metzgar Elementary invited all First Student drivers from Location #20508 to a breakfast to introduce them to the program and to give them a chance to participate in an open forum with school officials.
At the breakfast, drivers learned about their role in the implementation of the program and what forms they would need to complete (student specific, group or location) in order for the school to address situations properly.
Drivers learned that after completing a form they would give it to a fifth grade student. In the program, fifth graders act as “Ambassadors” and turn all bus forms into Guidance Counselor Pritts.
Each month she meets with these “Ambassadors” to discuss the culture and climate on their school bus, and then gathers feedback to later share with drivers.
She also meets with identified student/students to discuss their behavior and has/have them complete a “Stop and Think Sheet”. The student(s) then take this sheet home to discuss it with their parents who then signs the form and returns it to the school.
Every student at Metzgar Elementary, K-5, participates in the program.
When you ask Location Manager Joe Baldwin about the program he responds, “I am always happy to see improved communication between school administrators and our individual bus drivers. Because the Peaceful School Bus Program utilizes positive reinforcement to promote good behavior while on the bus, it is thereby making the trip twice a day less stressful for our drivers and a safer ride to and from school for all.”
Joe also believes that good communication between the district and all First Student team members includes everyone – drivers, monitors, dispatchers and managers.
Since the program started, First Student drivers have noticed a decrease in the number of incidents with students exhibiting bad behavior.