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Safety issues on school buses affect districts everywhere. From talking and screaming to walking while the bus is in motion, children often don’t realize that their behavior creates serious safety concerns for drivers, and can potentially harm their classmates.

To combat behavioral issues on buses, one district in Tennessee has created a school bus monitor program in hopes of not only breaking bad habits, but educating children on proper safety procedures.

Melissa Garton, transportation coordinator for Dickson County Schools, has worked in school transportation for 20 years.  After talking with other districts in the area, Garton decided to implement a bus monitor program to provide a rotating set of eyes and to aid drivers.  “It kind of just hit me one day that maybe if we had some floating monitors who could be shuffled to some of our buses that give us so much trouble … that that might help us keep our drivers and help with the safety of the students on the bus.”

Monitors rotate through buses or are assigned on an as-needed basis. With 68 regular routes and about 5,800 students riding a bus daily, monitors can stay on a bus for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, depending on student behavior improvement.

All monitors are trained in student management, undergo background checks and drug testing, receive CPR certification, and are taught how to interact with special-needs students, in case they have to substitute for one of the special-needs monitors.

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Student write-ups have dropped by over 70% on the buses that now have monitors on board.

It has been shown that children respond better when it is explained to them why they shouldn’t do something, instead of just being told not to do it. Rather than just telling kids to sit still or not to yell, explain to them how and why their behavior is potentially dangerous.

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