Bethlehem Central School District

Bethlehem Peaceable Bus Project


Elementary students tell us that it is on the school bus that bullying and other harmful behaviors, reported and unreported, occur most frequently. The Peaceable Bethlehem Bus Project is designed to respond to these conditions by increasing respectful, empathic and allying behaviors on the school bus and decrease intimidating, bullying and physically and emotionally aggressive behaviors. The program uses a skills and attitude teaching model aimed at building a sense of group and belonging, comradeship and common ground among riders of differing ages, their driver and attendants. The thesis underlying this initiative is that providing the opportunity for children and adults on the school bus to come to know, trust and value each other makes the choice to harm or behave disrespectfully toward each other more difficult and unlikely.

Initial hypotheses re: outcomes of a Peaceable Bethlehem Bus Project are:

  • students will enter school and their classrooms feeling more emotionally and physically safe following a calm, sociable bus ride.
  • students will be more available for learningg as they enter their classrooms, not preoccupied by and focusing on distressing or harmful events on the school bus.
  • Students will be more available for learning as the day comes to a close, not anticipating the reoccurrence of harassment or harm from the morning or a previous ride.
  • a greater sense of community will be seen in the general school culture as more and more students and staff become better known to each other and look out for one another through the Peaceable Bethlehem Bus Project.
  • given the opportunity to truly get to know each other and recognize and appreciate all they have in common, children will decrease aggressive, demeaning, harassing and non-compliant behaviors, choosing instead to behave in right ways toward others.
  • discipline referrals from the school bus to the principal will decrease.
  • undocumented, undetected bus complaints from students to the principal, teachers, other staff and parents will decrease.

Project elements include but are not limited to:

  • Pre-scheduled bus route group meetings approximately 30 minutes in length held throughout the school year in the school building.
  • Group meetings incorporate a workshop model and feature team-building and cooperative learning exercises.
  • Bus route teams are lead and supported by building educational staff because "we're all in this together."
  • Older students interact/pair up with younger students during group meetings.
  • Meeting lesson plans include relationship building exercises and problem solving about scenarios of typical bus problems and conflicts.
  • Lesson plans include a mini-lesson, pair and small group work and whole group closure including "buswork" as appropriate.
  • Parent partners are involved by promoting Peaceable Bus principles and skills in the home and collecting and sharing evidence from their children re: project effectiveness.

Project Implementation

It is important to note that Bus Route Team meetings occur in the school building. This underscores the reality that we are all stakeholders in achieving the aims of the project. The other important reality is that the physical design of school buses in antithetical to discussion and dialogue. High back seats make it impossible to see those with whom we need to converse and sitting in rows means students have their backs to each other. In order to know and become known to each other, we must be able to interact face to face and read and respond to nonverbal as well as verbal communication.

Outcome Measures:

  • Increase in respect shown toward driver and attendants.
  • Increase in compliance with all bus rules.
  • Increase in positive bus reports to parents, teachers, principal.
  • Increase in reports of "fun" on the school bus.
  • Increase in voluntary mixed age seating patterns on the bus.
  • Decrease in bus conduct reports.
  • Decrease in reports of undetected bullying, harassing, and aggressive behaviors.

2008-09 Schedule

School Session 1 Session
Session 4 Session 5 Session 6
Clarksville 12/  1/29  2/12 3/12 4/9 5/7