School bus drivers take to the classroom

School bus drivers take to the classroom

Michigan district's drivers listen to students read, help in media centers, and stock books on buses
Driver Dawn Lemaster, above, reads to Lake Orion students. She was the Thomas Built Essay Contest Winner 2012—North American School Bus Driver of the Year.

When a bus driver for Lake Orion Community Schools in Michigan grew concerned that riders were bored, she began bringing books and games on board for students to use while in transit.

That became the first step in the development in a special program to promote reading and other learning activities. Through an initiative dubbed BusSTAR (Support Teaching by Assisting in Reading), drivers now assist teachers in the classroom and provide other support during the part of the day when they are not transporting students.

Activities range from listening to students read aloud to helping out in media centers. Some drivers also stock books and educational games on their buses to keep riders occupied in positive ways.

“This has gone far beyond where I thought it would,” says Dale Goby, director of transportation.

About 20 of the district’s 60 drivers, who are part-time employees, have volunteered in the effort. They typically donate an hour a day during their unpaid time between morning and afternoon routes.

“My expectations are that the program will continue to grow,” Goby says. “It shows you don’t have to have a teaching degree to be concerned about children.”