By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — They’re called the Transportation Tutors.
At Eagle Creek Elementary in Arlington, eight school bus drivers work off the clock to help first-graders learn to read.
Driver Darrell Hunt proudly says that in three weeks since the tutor program started, he has helped one student advance to a new reading level.
After finishing his bus run to Kent Prairie Elementary School, Hunt, 50, drives over to Eagle Creek to spend almost an hour a day with two first-graders.
“The kids are so excited when we come in to the classroom,” Hunt said. “They can’t wait to get started.”
A longtime bus driver with nearly 10 years in the Arlington School District, Hunt is a father and grandfather. The job of a bus driver also includes encouraging students, Hunt said, and the tutor stint fits right in with that attitude.
“These are all our kids, and we should all do what we can to help,” Hunt said.
Principal Denise Putnam said the Transportation Tutors have made a big difference.
“It’s been phenomenal,” she said. “If we could measure the whole thing in smiles, we’d be off the charts. Based on the success we’ve had so far, I can see this program growing.”
About 16 kids benefit from the tutoring relationships with the volunteers from the district’s transportation department.
“The side benefit is the strengthened relationships between the kids and the bus drivers,” said school district spokesman Misti Gilman.
The current lineup of Transportation Tutors includes Katie Hoover, Paul Power, Brenda DiMaggio, Rozalynn Boehm, Pam Selby, Helen Blacken, Tina Ulrich and Hunt.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.