The Peaceful Bus Program Builds Relationships and Respect
Being a student can be stressful at times. The most stressful part of the school day often is not in the classroom but in the ride to and from school on the bus. A goal of the Hauppauge Public Schools (HPS) is to create a comfortable nurturing environment to optimize a student’s potential for productive learning. To this end, HPS is filled with caring compassionate teachers, friendly helpful staff, warm and colorful buildings and classrooms. It is a shame when a student cannot enjoy the school day by having a negative experience on the bus.
Seven years ago, Pines Principal Claudine DiMuzio took a proactive approach to the problem when, together with the Shared Decision Making Team at Pines Elementary School, she implemented the Peaceful School Bus Program. The program was designed to reduce the number of student behavior problems on the school bus by creating a greater sense of community and responsibility among students riding the bus in an effort to make every child's experience on the bus more enjoyable.
It starts in September with a Bus Drivers Breakfast to welcome the drivers into the learning community and enlist them as partners in the Peaceful Bus program.
Five times a year, students on the same bus route/bus team meet together in the school building. Kindergarten and first grade students assemble in the gym and are grouped by bus. They are then taken to classrooms where the older students from the same bus greet them. These meetings help students get to know each other and learn how to behave and act responsibly on the school bus. These meetings do not interfere with instruction. All walkers and SCOPE students are grouped together as a team, as this program will support their need to understand the responsibilities of a walker/bus rider. Throughout the educational programs in Hauppauge, the importance of mentorship and peer interaction is utilized and appreciated. Students teaching other students is an extremely effective educational tool. In the January 2018 meeting, the young students and their mentors worked together to make Valentine cards for their bus drivers.
Priority one in HPS is, and always will be, the safety of the students. With that in mind, Peaceful School Bus Safety Rules were shared with all students, bus drivers, and community parents. The Peaceful School Bus Safety Rules are:
Stay seated in your assigned seat; an adult may tell you where to sit. Buckle up!
Always respect others; the bus driver, the bus, and yourself.
Flinging things in or out of the bus is not allowed.
Eating and drinking on the bus are not allowed.
Talk quietly and kindly, no yelling or hurtful words.
You are responsible and accountable for your actions.
Two way communication between the schools and the community is of the utmost importance in the Hauppauge Public Schools. Principal DiMuzio wrote in her letter to parents, “As parents, you have an important role in this program. If your child reports a problem on the bus to you, please let the bus driver, classroom teacher, or main office know, so that we may address the issue in a timely manner. As always, the safety and well-being of every child is of the utmost importance to us. This program will help us work together to teach our children to be responsible members of their bus route group.”
Students can earn “compliments” from the bus drivers which can earn students prizes like extended recess or homework passes.
In the seven years since its inception, the number of bus related incidents have decreased significantly thanks to the Peaceful School Bus Program.
Peaceful Bus Chant
Everybody look at us.
We ride on a peaceful bus.
We don't scream and we don't shout.
That's what peace is all about.
We don't push and we don't shove.
A peaceful bus is what we love.