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Tis summer, Galaude said the driver training would provide another real-world scenario — cataclysmic weather. “In Houston, our weather during that time is rain and hurri-

canes,” he explained. “I’ve learned that when you have other people involved from the fire and police departments, who would be faced with the same obstacles as our drivers when it comes to road condi- tions and weather, it’s a force that you cannot beat.” Another first this year will be new training for student riders

called “Save the Bus,” which prepares them for a medical emergen- cy experienced by their driver. “Medical emergencies are fairly common. We had one two years

ago, when one of our drivers actually had a heart attack. She was able to stop the bus, and the students actually got on the radio, called it in and one of them went (for) help as well,” Galaude recalled. “Our logic with Save the Bus is, the more we’re able to help and

educate, then the better off we’ll be in preparing our drivers for the sake of the students.”

IMPROVING INSTRUCTIONAL SKILLS At Dowagiac Union Schools in Michigan, Transportation Super-

visor Kevin Kelm has implemented a new driver-training program that addresses everything from communication to crisis mitigation to student behavior management. He said the video-based training developed by Dr. Nancy Blackwelder of has raised awareness about “a whole gamut” of issues. “Te initial training of new drivers now includes student behavior

issues. It’s an ongoing problem that’s getting worse and worse, espe- cially with the bullying factor,” shared Kelm, who oversees 17 buses that transport about 2,380 students. “Frankly, we need to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control.” Ray Newton, transportation director at King George County

Schools in Virginia, agreed that student behavior management is a key aspect of driver training. After an incident involving a bus driver and aide who beat an autistic student, state lawmakers mandated new training for paraprofessionals and also recommended it for other transportation staff. Newton noted that he’s already received significant positive feedback on its efficacy. “It has helped our drivers both on the general ed and special ed side to be able to cope with the children,” he said about the 15-hour online course that combines video, discussion and testing on differ- ent scenarios. Even though the training is geared toward autism, Newton

believes it sheds light on the way that children’s minds work. For ex- ample, he appreciated the advice for drivers on repeating to students the type of behavior expected from them on the bus. “One part said that a child only remembers five basic rules, so

keep your rules short and to the point. Don’t elaborate on it — just short and sweet direction to enable them to follow through. It works with all the grades,” Newton continued. Following directions is just as crucial for drivers as it is for students

to ensure safe bus trips. Tis is why folks at the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) spent two years creating a Behind-the-Wheel 51

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