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Student Bus Managers support classmates, help reduce problem behaviors on school buses

"Remember to put your back against the seat and to keep your feet out of the aisle." "Ms. Moore is driving us home, so we have to keep our voices down so she can focus on the road." "Let's do this worksheet together and see how many objects we can find." These are just some of the positive reminders you may hear student Bus Managers sharing with their classmates.

Rebecca Moore instituted a student Bus Manager program on her Sunnycrest bus. The managers help remind students of bus safety rules, and keep them engaged in fun activities—all with positive reinforcement.

Izzy Watkins, left, is a Junior Bus Manager. Her brother Tony, center, enjoys completing a “Find It” worksheet with the help of Maggie McGowan, right, a student Bus Manager.

Our school buses safely transport thousands of students to and from school throughout the school year. While bus drivers’ main focus is on the road, they are also responsible for monitoring student behavior, which can be tricky. Appointing student Bus Managers has been a positive behavior strategy on elementary buses throughout the district.

Brought to our district by Debbie Heide, the district’s new Transportation Supervisor, the student Bus Manager program allows older students to work closely with their younger schoolmates to teach and model appropriate bus riding behaviors. Bus Managers also engage their peers in fun, bus-appropriate activities and games to keep them engaged on their ride to and from school.

Being a Bus Manager is serious business! On Rebecca Moore’s bus, Sunnycrest Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade students can complete an application form to become a Student Bus Manager. The application asks students questions such as, “What does kindness mean to you?” and “What have you done in the past to show you are a great bus rider?” Moore selects four students as managers and four third-grade Junior Bus Managers, who also help. The managers rotate where they sit on the bus so they have the chance to engage with a variety of students.

Maggie McGowan shows off her Bus Manager lanyard. Each Bus Manager gets this special designation. They also get a bag of activities and reward stickers to help engage their younger classmates during the ride to and from school.

“Being a Bus Manager is a job, and I pick students based on their potential. They move outside of their comfort zones to lead. I’ve seen a notable difference in all of my students’ behaviors since implementing the Bus Manager program,” said Moore, who has been driving for the district for nine years. “In addition to teaching leadership skills, the program allows the students to get to know each other better, which also reduces conflicts. The positive reinforcement is working, and I’m encouraging my colleagues to implement the program on their buses as well.”

Every bus driver at Sunnycrest has adopted the Bus Manager program, and they are encouraging their colleagues at other schools to do the same.

On Moore’s bus, younger students can complete “Find It” worksheets to earn stickers and “Wheelie Awesome” cards. Being engaged in activities during their ride helps reduce boredom—and it’s fun!

Maggie McGowan is a fifth-grade Bus Manager and Izzy Watkins is a Junior Manager. They both enjoy the leadership opportunity, and like to help Ms. Moore.

“It’s fun to be a Junior Manager,” said Watkins. “I like the activities and handing out stickers.”

In addition to helping with bus behavior, the program is getting younger students excited about their future Bus Manager opportunities.

"My younger students can't wait until it's their turn to lead," said Moore.