While school and education are considered synonymous, one Bryan County resident is putting the word out that transportation safety is also an integral part of the school district.
Richmond Hill Elementary School third grader Tristen Little rides Bus 68 and gets dropped off every day at his grandma Betty Braddy’s house. Since last year, Little said he has had bus monitors helping out on his bus.
"They’re not on the bus every day, they’ve had several fluctuate from bus to bus," Braddy said. Once a fifth grade teacher at Carver Elementary, Braddy now takes care of her grandchildren, including Little and his younger siblings Fisher and Daisy Avery.
Bryan County Schools Assistant Superintendent Brad Anderson oversees the program and said the board started it about four years ago.
"We started with three regular education monitors who rode regular buses and we moved them around, and each special education bus has a monitor," Anderson explained.
When Braddy first found out about the program, she said she was tickled to death.
"Tristen told me, ‘there’s another lady on our bus and she’s telling us what to do,’" she said. "And I met him out at the bus stop and met his monitor, Miss Tricia. And the bus driver was happy to have some help while she was driving."
Braddy said she wants to commend the school system for instituting this extra safety measure for her grandson.
"A lot of times, the people who are directly involved with the children do not get the praise that they really deserve," she said. "Because the fact is, you’re only as good as the people who work for you. And that makes a lot of difference. This is a great a safety measure, and anything positive they do, people should know about it. These things ought to be recognized."
Little explained what the bus monitor’s purpose is during his rides.
"She makes sure we’re not eating while we ride the bus," Little explained. "She is strict, but she’s really nice. It’s pretty noisy on the bus, especially in the back where the bigger kids sit, but otherwise it’s fun."
Little said before there were bus monitors helping out on his bus, things weren’t too much different.
But Anderson thinks the program has created definite improvements.
"The bus monitors are here to help with discipline," he said. "With so many new drivers, the monitors are really very instrumental in a new driver getting his or her bus load under control."
"With children and someone new, they sometimes try to capitalize on that situation. The monitors are really very helpful in that," he said.
Anderson also said from a staff standpoint, the schools have also noticed a big difference.
"With students, oftentimes, the farther away you are from the adults, the more mischief you might be tempted to get into. With the monitors you have less mischief. We’ve noticed a decrease in discipline as well as discipline referrals after this placement. And, it allows the driver to focus on his or her driving and getting the children safely to and from the schools," he said.
Anderson said that while North Bryan County if fully staffed with monitors, there are several vacancies in the south end of the county.
"It’s really about finding people willing to do it. It’s a paid position with full benefits," he said, noting the pay is about $8.08 an hour.
If anyone is interested in becoming a bus monitor, please contact Anderson or Allen Cox at 626-5000.