Editor’s note: We’re sharing the stories of bus drivers
from Talladega County, Alabama who participate in
Rolling Study Halls. This program powers their buses—along
with others across the U.S.—with Wi-Fi, devices and onboard
educators to help thousands of students reclaim 1.5 million
learning hours. As part of our Grow
with Google initiative to help provide more Americans
with access to the tools and skills they need, we
expanded the program across the country in 2018. In the past
academic year, participating school districts across the U.S. have
seen improvements in student grades, confidence and homework
completion. Dr. Suzanne Lacey, Superintendent from Talladega
County, is sharing more about the impact this program is having in
her community and beyond.
Talladega County is home to more than 7,000 students across 17
schools. The majority of our students spend a sizable part of their
day on a bus getting to and from school. In our rural county, many
students also face limited access to the internet—and it’s not
just an economic issue. In a lot of places where our students live,
there simply isn’t access available. For these reasons,
Rolling Study Halls has become an important part of our
educational program since we became a participating district last
April. Through a creative use of commute time, we’re now able to
open doors for these students to opportunities they might not have
had otherwise. Our bus drivers aren’t just driving students to
school, they’re also helping to drive change that goes beyond
their daily routines.
Kim Gaither, who drives a Rolling Study Halls bus for Munford
Elementary and High School, has said the program dramatically
improves her long bus route, which is now quieter due to better
student behavior. While Kim’s focusing on the road, the kids get
to focus on getting more out of their time on the bus. By
extending the time available for learning day, everyone benefits.
Principal Michelle Head says Stemley Road Elementary teachers have
seen student confidence grow, which she and her teachers attribute
to Rolling Study Halls.
Creating time to connect
Rolling Study Halls also fosters relationships between the
onboard educator and their students. Drew Middle School teacher and
onboard educator, Stuart Bently, recently shared with me the story
of a former 7th grade student who struggled in class and rarely
completed her work. On the bus, Stuart can give this student extra
attention and have conversations about not just her assignments,
but also about what’s going on in her life. He’s proud that
this student is now completing assignments, participating in class
and couldn’t wait to show him her last report card.
Onboard educator and 2nd grade teacher Jessica Moses provides
targeted warm-up activities for students on her bus each morning to
get students into the right frame of mind before getting to school.
These activities are a rare opportunity to have a positive impact
on students’ learning attitudes before they even walk through their
classroom door, setting the tone for their day.
Our entire community—parents, teachers and bus drivers—are
all eager to see how this program will continue to positively
impact our students. And we’re inspired to know that what’s
working here is also working in other Rolling Study Halls school
districts. In Tennessee, the Clarksville-Montgomery County School
District has seen improvements in their students’ GPAs at both
the middle and high school levels. Teachers have said students are
now more comfortable in asking for help with assignments or
standards they don’t understand. The same goes for Lexington
County School District One in South Carolina, where 57 percent of
participating students say that the Wi-Fi connection on the bus is
better than at home and 83 percent say the time on the bus is
critical to helping them finish their homework.
Back home, as we continue to measure success, we’ll also
investigate methods for expansion. Talladega County Schools always
looks for opportunities to maximize learning for our students.
Together with Google, we’re making a difference for them, and
we’re especially thankful for our bus drivers who are behind the
wheel, making this whole thing run.
Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 2
Driving change with Rolling Study Halls