In my prior position as bus operations director, each March we met with Kindergarten parents for the annual “Kindergarten Round-Up”. We follow with “Kindergarten Count-Down” in August. The March meeting starts the registration process for the Kindergarten students in Monticello. The August meeting involves the Kindergarteners themselves. They do fun activities with their teachers, tour their classrooms, and ride a bus.
From a transportation perspective, I’ve found great value in both segments of our Kindergarten program.
Within a few weeks of the March meeting, we have enough information to begin routing the Kindergarten for fall, a process that consumes the majority of our routing hours. We talk about some of the issues facing Kindergarten families, like daycare and split-custody situations.
The August meeting is the best part of our Kindergarten program. We spend a few minutes talking to parents — the only time we really do that during the thirteen years their students attend school. We explain how we start to build a relationship between the bus driver and the students and describe how we conduct school bus safety training. We share information about how and when to contact our company. At the close of the evening, we go for a bus ride.
It strikes me every year how very small these Kindergarten students are. They approach that big bus and the first step is — for some of them — thigh high. They are so enthusiastic about the first bus ride, while their parents are seeing a modern bus and all the changes and improvements since they rode the bus themselves. We demonstrate our “No Child Left Behind” technology and talk about the new GPS units.
After this night of practice, we see the Kindergarteners leave their parents and march on the bus with a little more confidence. We see them looking at their bus drivers more as kind and caring helpers than as strangers. We watch them march off the bus and into the school building for their first moments of their learning journey.
We’re so thankful to play the role we do with these brave little people!