Tom Korth believes that bus drivers can play a bigger role in the lives of the students they transport. In fact, Korth has staked his academic career on this conviction.
Korth, 61, has been a school bus driver in eastern Michigan for 11 years and recently completed graduate work focusing on the idea that drivers could be “assets in the academic development of students,” he said.
Encouraged to study this subject by faculty at Saginaw Valley State University, Korth wrote a research paper for his education specialist degree with central office certification that examined “how ancillary staff can help positively affect student behavior and student outcomes in the classroom.”
Korth added that due to the amount of time school bus drivers spend with students on a daily basis, they play an important role in “long-term positively affecting and educating the total student.”
He drew inspiration from his years behind the wheel of a Chippewa Valley Schools bus transporting students of all ages to and from class, interacting with parents and working with administrators.
“There’s not a lot of research into this topic,” Korth said, adding that the behaviors that are often overlooked by administrators are “seen by drivers. Drivers can provide valuable insight about students.”
With the proper training and close collaboration with teachers and school administartors, Korth said he can see school bus drivers adding necessary value to student success both in and outside the classroom.
“Looking back, the kids are the ones that actually transported me to think beyond just having the school bus driver job as extra income…who wanted to make a difference in the lives of the students that I transport,” he wrote.