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[Weekly Inspiration] Shorty the School Bus Helps Students Build New Skills

[Weekly Inspiration] Shorty the School Bus Helps Students Build New Skills

Decommissioned busses in Birmingham City Schools go the way of the dodo bird: straight to the junk lot, never to be seen again. But as Bus 90-36 was about to be decommissioned after 25 years of service, Anthony Gary, the district’s Transportation Shop Foreman, proposed a new idea: a dropout recovery program that uses old busses like 90-36 to teach students new skills.

“Once a bus gets past a certain age, the district would junk it,” he explained. “But we said, ‘Let us take it and do something good with it’.”

Thus, with the support of the mechanics in the transportation shop, Shorty the Bus was born, and a new career technology program along with it.

The goals of the program were pretty simple: Shorty would be renovated, with modifications that help to teach new career and technology skills to students in need. The mechanics would help to promote these skills and show students that there are options for them if they choose not to go to college.
Nearly a dozen flat-screen video monitors were added to the bus, which now show its evolution. Hardwood floors were installed inside, along with a state-of-the-art sound system and LED lighting. Everything was shined and polished to a glow. Students worked with their instructors along the way, learning all of the skills that would help them install all of this equipment in cars, homes, and businesses in the future.

““We show that you can paint if you want to, be a mechanic, lay hardwood flooring, install a sound system, install video equipment and all, if you put your mind to it,” says Gary. And in 2019, he and his team entered Shorty in the “World of Wheels” regional car show. Shorty took first place in its category, and the trophy now sits in the shop’s office.
The district moves the bus around to different schools, and acts as an outdoor classroom. It seats roughly fifteen students and has additional screens on the outside, which can be used to show lessons.

Check out the article on NEA Today. Every school in the world discards old equipment when it reaches the end of its lifespan. Think about the things you could hold onto and repurpose for a different sort of lesson for your students.