Murfreesboro City Schools Transportation and Safety Supervisor Debra Savely wants to make sure that learning doesn’t stop when the final school bell rings. With help from local non-profit Read To Succeed, Savely started a program on city school buses to get kids reading after-school hours.
“Now they’re reading at the beginning and the end of each school day,” Savely says. “[The buses] are an extension of the school, so we wanted to make sure the school day doesn’t end until the children are dropped off at their homes.”
Savely says she feels strongly that the time on the bus is productive and even compliments what teachers are doing in their schools.
The program began with five buses in an effort to keep students focused on their rides to and from school. After a lot of trial and error, bus drivers found that reading has been one of the best ways to keep students calm. Older children are encouraged to read to younger children from a collection of books donated by Read To Succeed. Savely has found that the older children feel needed when they get to read to younger students.
The program needs community support to continue, Savely says, to provide books for additional buses to get involved. Books with no higher than a third or fourth grade reading level can be dropped off at the Transportation Services building at 710 Highway 99.
Savely says she wants the program to keep growing and including more buses in the initiative.
“It helps the students with their reading level and it helps the bus drivers, too,” she says. “It calms the students down to get them quiet and focused. It can go from screaming to silence in a matter of minutes.”