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£ Speaker David Leedy donned a Superman costume during a March in-service training in Clinton County, Ohio, to remind school bus drivers they are heroes, too — and even got them dancing.


hile school bus drivers spend much of their time sitting behind a steering wheel, the latest training programs offer innovative ways to get drivers on

their feet and into real-world situations, whether it is response to a bus fire, crash, violent attack or major weather event. Because bus drivers confront multiple hazards daily, they must be ready and prepared for the unexpected. What they learn from their safety training could save a life. Tony Long, superintendent of the Southern Ohio

Educational Service Center, decided to inject more energy into a recent in-service training for bus drivers in Clinton County after a long, hard winter. He’d en- countered Dave Leedy 10 years ago in a professional development session that was so memorable, several bus drivers would repeatedly write in their post-train- ing comments: “Bring back Superman.” “We thought it would be nice to have a more enthusiastic approach this time,” Long told STN. “Dave is very energetic — he had bus drivers up and dancing to ‘Respect.’ He talked mostly about loving your job, doing a great job … and about this being an important profession.” His Superman costume reminded the drivers,

transportation directors and superintendents in atten- dance that they are everyday heroes. “As a former schoolteacher, he was able to relate

stories back to knowing a bus driver in his past, so it was wonderful,” said Long. “We’ve had a very, very positive response to Dave Leedy’s presentation.” Te Ohio Department of Education presented a special award to high school student Danielle Kneisly during a spring conference to recognize her contribu- tions to improve their school bus driver safety programs. Te groundbreaking training session welcomed Kneisly and her service dog, Bobo, to participate in emergency

evacuation drills last summer. Bob Harmon, DOE pupil transportation consultant, said it was the first time in the U.S. that a special-education student and service animal were used in driver training instead of dummies. Harmon has already scheduled an encore perfor-

mance for two advanced driver-training sessions in June. To up the ante, he said he also plans to bring on student actors to act as riders and demonstrate various medical conditions, including deafness and cerebral palsy, with some kids having their legs taped together for the latter. And the drivers are going to be thrust into a numerous scenarios, including a bus crash requiring immediate evacuation. After the training, Harmon said everyone would gather in the classroom to discuss what they did right and what they did wrong, to be critiqued and to get ideas that they can share with their districts. He said Danielle’s parents are very cooperative and

supportive of her involvement in the training program. “Parents are an integral part of this training

because when we start talking about requirements for the service dog, we also talk about the impact the family has and the training the family has to go through,” he continued. “We’re learning as we go — so are the parents, so are the students — but more importantly, we’re getting the information out to our bus drivers again because this is getting to be a common-day occurrence, rather than an exception, in the student transportation industry.”

IN THE THICK OF A CRISIS Chester Galaude, senior operations manager in

transportation for Houston Independent School District, said the department has changed its back-to- school training to make it more realistic and create the same atmosphere for drivers that their student riders experience. Ø 49

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