Our Newest TOG Workshop: Mindfulness Training for Bus Drivers

Posted on April 24, 2018

It’s been quite the ride for Tools of Growth since September 14, 2014. Publishing my book, The Perfect Parent was like giving birth to a beautiful first child. As a first-time author, like a first-time parent, I did not know what to anticipate. I had no preconceived notions about what would happen next, and I consciously decided not to read blogs or “what to expect” advice for new authors. I just jumped in with a heart full of passion.

As most of you know, over the course of the last three years, the book has won several awards, honorable mentions, and endorsements from renowned experts. But what I was swept away by most was that this book gave rise to a lineup of school and educational programs. This was neither planned nor expected. It is true that life is full of surprises, and no one likes surprises better than me. So when Dr. Joan Lucid at Saugus Union School District hired TOG to create the very first SEL, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness training program for recess staff (called the Mindful Play Leaders’ Lead to Succeed Program), I had no idea where this would take me.

I am humbled and excited that in just a short three years, six programs have emerged from one book:

  1. Recess staff—Mindful Play Leaders’ Lead to Succeed Program
  2. Before- and after-school staff—Mindful Play Leaders’ Lead to Succeed Program
  3. Teachers—Mindful Teachers’ Lead to Succeed Program
  4. School administrators and management—Mindful Leaders’ Lead to Succeed program
  5. Junior lifeguard instructors and camp counselors—Mindful Junior Lifeguards’ Lead to Succeed program

I did say six, didn’t I? Yes, the sixth one took me by surprise as well. Sulphur Springs Union School District contacted me to create a program for their bus drivers! When Michelle Gookins, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, first mentioned this, I almost fell out of my chair. Why had I not thought of this? Creating these programs has been fulfilling and gratifying, but designing the Mindful Bus Drivers’ Lead to Succeed Program has been the most fun so far.

As part of the data-mining process that goes into these programs, I asked to go on a couple of bus rides so I could really feel the bus drivers’ pinch points and understand the challenges they face with kids. I did an early morning ride on a special ed bus, and it was really interesting to note the slump that all children experience getting on the bus as early as 6 a.m. Yet even on a quiet dark morning, kids found a way to argue and tease. There were only eight children on this small bus, so despite the smart remarks, teases, and nudges, things weren’t really that bad. And now I can believe that bus drivers really do have eyes in the back of their heads!

The next day I got to ride a bus after school. That was a one-of-a-kind experience for my poor ears. The sound in the bus leapt from zero to one hundred in just a few seconds. It reminded of what happens at a Laker Game when an unexpected basket is scored. Now hold that noise for one hour, and, yes, that’s exactly what a bus ride with 65 children sounds like.

Needless to say, I walked away with tons of examples and data. But most of all, I walked away with a newfound respect for the challenging job that bus drivers do. Facing forward, keeping safety first and foremost, these valiant human beings are committed to getting noisy rambunctious kids to their stops safe and sound.

To all the parents who worry about their children riding the bus, let me assure you that although these dedicated leaders might occasionally lose their cool or feel “mean” to the kids, they do so to protect them—to ensure their safety. To prove my point, I’d like to share some eye-opening facts that I learned during the making of the Bus Drivers’ Lead to Succeed Program:

  • There’s a huge effect on the environment

One single bus is the equivalent of taking 36 cars off the road.

More than 17 million cars would be needed to transport students currently riding on all the school buses in the United States.

As much as 20-30 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents who drive their children to school.                                  

  • There’s a huge effect on health

Switching from diesel fuel in buses to propane has proven to be 15 percent better for the environment and health.

Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma, permanent lung deficits, and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults.

One-third of the schools in “air pollution danger zones” are rated that way due to their proximity to high-traffic areas.

  • There’s a huge effect on safety

According to the National Safety Council, every day more than 25 million children ride one of 480,000 big yellow buses, yet school buses are among the safest modes of transport—safer than riding in a family vehicle or walking.

The National Highway Transport and Safety Association (NHTSA) notes that from 2004 to 2014, U.S. drivers were involved in 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. However, only 4 percent of those were “school transportation related.”

Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus than when traveling by car.

Not only are buses safer for the environment and our children’s health, they are the safest mode of transportation for our children! Of course, the government and bus manufacturers contribute to the benefits that buses have. But where safety is concerned, all credit goes to the bus drivers. It’s because of their care and dedication to our kids that we can cite such amazing statistics.

I am honored to be able to equip school bus drivers with tools of emotional intelligence and mindful communication to help enhance the great job that they already do!

If you’d like to bring this training to your school, feel free to contact me at roma@toolsofgrowth.com

See what Roma has to say about the program.