School in Session for EVSC Bus Drivers ; Voluntary Getting-to-Know-You Classes Include 'Spanish on Wheels' Crash Course

Article excerpt

Before arriving at school for the day and saying "Hi" to any teacher, principal or friend, most EVSC students first are greeted by their school bus drivers. The bus driver is someone who, according to Heather Wilson, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. director of professional development for classified staff, can have a direct impact - good or bad - on the way the rest of a student's day will go.

Wilson is launching a class, available to any interested EVSC bus driver, that teaches well-known and useful Spanish phrases. Marietta Morgan, EVSC data specialist in the Office of Performance, Assessment and Research, is also teaching the free, one-hour voluntary class that was offered on two days this week with a third session scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday.

With about 3.5 percent of EVSC's student population being Hispanic, a number that continues to grow, the main focus of the class will be to help bus drivers become more familiar with recognizing and speaking Spanish words and phrases to better communicate with students and families. Participants also receive a quick reference guide compiled by the EVSC, the book "Spanish on Wheels" and a CD for further learning.

Wilson said the idea stemmed from a bus driver requesting a resource to learn some Spanish vocabulary. Wilson couldn't immediately offer that, but after approaching Morgan, who is also part of EVSC's English as a Second Language program, they decided to start the class this summer. It has received positive feedback, Wilson said, with 21 people already completing the training.

"We're so excited that they're coming on their own time," she said. "They're not getting paid or anything, so they're doing it just to learn or better their Spanish."

In addition to safety responsibilities, Morgan said bus drivers also need to care about customer service because their mood can set the tone for the rest of the school day for their student riders. …