Schools Hope Plan Drives Home Books; Nassau: Reading to Fill Bus Commute

By Trinidad, Alison | The Florida Times Union, August 16, 2003 | Go to article overview

Schools Hope Plan Drives Home Books; Nassau: Reading to Fill Bus Commute


Trinidad, Alison, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

For many children, the ride to school and back home in a big, yellow school bus often takes hours each day -- hours surrounded by other loud and eager children.

Officials at Southside Elementary School want to turn those wasted hours into something positive, and they've recruited the help of those behind the wheel -- the bus drivers.

Southside Elementary had a group training session this month to put the school's bus drivers "On the Road to Reading," a state-funded school program that organizers hope to start soon after Labor Day.

The first-time program is aimed at encouraging children to read and help others read while riding the school bus. The school received a $13,500 Florida Learn & Serve grant to implement the program, which targets students struggling with reading.

Bus drivers were taught how to motivate students to read and to recognize what those students are capable of reading.

During the training session, Southside Elementary Principal Diana Middleton reminded the bus drivers how important they were to the students and the success of the fledgling program.

"You're the first people who see these children before they get to school," Middleton said. "We would not be able to do this project without you."

As planned, bus drivers will give students magazines, books and books on tape.

Designated students from Emma Love Hardee Elementary School then will help and mentor younger students from Southside and Atlantic elementary schools. Those Bus Buddy Readers won't be the best readers in their class, but rather those who need help and reinforcement themselves. Allowing them to teach others should foster self-improvement, organizers said.

Dianne Febles, a teacher at Southside who spearheaded the grant application, said the program's benefits are many. For one, each student who participates expands his or her learning time by about two hours a day.

"Children spend close to 50 minutes every trip on the bus," the report said. …

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