+Works® Teams With HISD Transportation to Provide Mandatory Training for School Bus Drivers on Bullying

(Left to right) Sarah Fisher, Deborah Williams, Chester Glaude, Trish Morille, Dr. Stuart Twemlow

+Team Reaches Nearly 1,000 Drivers and Attendants; Reframing the Issue Produces New Ideas for Driving Change In The Bus — And On The Road

HOUSTON, TEXAS — NOVEMBER 3, 2011 —  +Works® (pronounced Positive Works), a Houston-based, parent-driven, nonprofit organization on a mission to get ahead of America’s bullying epidemic with positive talk and action, participated in a series of mandatory training sessions for all bus drivers and attendants in the Houston Independent School District this week. Mr. Chester Glaude, Senior Manager of Operations/ Transportation Services and Ms. Deborah Williams, HISD Transportation Project Manager, organized the training for the nearly 1,000 bus drivers and attendants in Texas’ largest school district.

“We want our drivers and attendants to understand that education begins with transportation and that they play a key role in the education and care of each and every child on their bus,” said Glaude. “When we heard the passion and compassion that the leaders of +Works bring to their work on the bullying issue, we were excited to partner with them on this important project.” Ms. Williams also feels a strong personal commitment to this project.  “We want all children to feel comfortable and safe on our HISD school buses,” said Williams, an HISD graduate who has witnessed firsthand the impact of school bus bullying on children.

+Works Co-Founders Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille along with international bullying expert and +Works Medical Director Dr. Stuart Twemlow, spoke to the drivers about a new way to frame the bullying issue.  “We had a constructive conversation about what bullying is — a power struggle enabled by a bystanding audience — and the idea that we are all bullies, targets and bystanders.  Because we play all the roles, we are truly all part of the solution,” said Twemlow, a retired psychiatrist who has conducted forty years of research on the subject and who has consulted extensively on community violence, including with the FBI on Columbine.  “We talked about resolving conflict in an assertive but constructive manner and how the adult driving the bus has a powerful role to play in the education of the children in their care while on the road.  This opportunity begins with modeling the kind of behavior we want to see in our children and setting high expectations for them while they are on the bus.”

“There were many practical ideas generated by the drivers during these conversations,” said Fisher, CEO of +Works and one of the presenters.  “Taking time to peel the onion on why a particular child is acting out, making sure everyone on the bus has a buddy to sit with, setting a clear expectation with children upfront for peaceful bus behavior, and sitting girls on one side of the bus and boys on the other were all ideas that came up in the group branistorming sessions,” said Fisher.  “But the overwhelmingly consistent comment in all three sessions was the importance of parents in this process, and we couldn’t agree more. We, as parents, are our children’s first, best, and forever teachers.  When we’re tired and overwhelmed, it can be tough to stay involved with our children. The truth is, this is exactly when it becomes most important,” she added.

+Works, which serves 6,600 school children and their families this year across nine public, private, and parochial schools in Houston, provided the training sessions to HISD Transportation on a pro bono basis.  “In all the years I’ve consulted with schools on bullying, this is my first personal opportunity to speak with bus drivers. It is gratifying to speak with people who have in their bus a setting for creating real and powerful change in the lives of children. We only hear about the violence that erupts on school buses.  We look forward to hearing more stories of upstanding and leadership behind the wheels and in the seats of HISD’s school buses in the future,” said Twemlow.