The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) class at Colton High School recently chose the sbX Green Line as their field trip destination. The class, which concentrates on teaching life skills to special needs students, is made up of nine boys ranging in age from 14 to 22-years-old.
Teacher Kim Snyder has been working with special needs kids for more than 30 years. The boys thrive under her care, reassured by her calmness, firmness and sense of humor. She loves spending time with them and is fascinated by how their minds work. Her goal is to teach them the social and practical skills needed to help prepare them for life as young adults.
“Because they can’t theorize well, they can’t always apply what they are taught in a classroom to real life situations beyond the classroom,” says Ms. Kim. “We have to actually teach these students in the community. If they have the opportunity to learn through actual hands-on experience, it is easier for them to understand and retain that information. Riding sbX was a great opportunity to them to see firsthand how that transit system works and what destinations are along the route.”
The boys were very excited by their first ride on the rapid transit system. The level boarding was both a surprise and immense relief.
“Steps make them a little nervous,” explains Ms. Kim. “Some of them are a little unsteady on their feet and one of them only walks on tiptoes. It can be difficult to deal with the steepness of a step, and they naturally worry about their balance. Having no steps to deal with was a huge bonus for us!”
The little group sat together at the back of the bus in a semi-circle, which allowed them to see each other’s smiling faces. When they learned about the on-board power outlets and free Wi-Fi, the boys broke into cheers and clapping. They were also amazed to see that people could bring their bikes on board and secure them in the interior bike racks.
As they rode along, they had a chance to see some of the sbx station platforms, and Ms. Kim pointed out familiar destinations.
“This is totally awesome!” one of them exclaimed. “It feels like a roller coaster.”
“The seats are really comfortable, and I like the driver,” said another.
The students had fun trying out the seats in the articulated middle section of the bus which spun whenever the vehicle made a turn. Big grins lit up their faces as they hung onto the armrests.
Along the way, they stopped at the VA Hospital station in Loma Linda, where they learned about features like the blue emergency call box, the live customer service help button at the side of each map case and the ticket vending machine where they could buy passes. They even had a visit from Field Supervisor Rick Alverez who took the time to answer a few questions. The class was impressed to discover that Rick had won several awards for driving buses in roadeo competitions and wanted their photo taken with him.
The field trip was a huge success, and the boys can’t wait to ride again. Because sbX is so fast, the class can now plan field trips to destinations like Cal State San Bernardino. That was not an option for them before, because the travel time by regular bus was much longer.
But, as Ms. Kim points out, sbX has an even greater impact on her students. It is a valuable resource for them as they enter the job market.
Many of her students work well in fast food cleanup, doing tasks like wiping down tables and cleaning windows. These fast food restaurants spend a lot of money training high school kids to do these jobs, but they tend to leave after only a short time. Students like those in Ms. Kim’s class, however, will go through the training, be excited and proud to earn their official badge or uniform and go on to work for that company for 50 years. But one of the first things the employer asks about is their transportation needs and whether they can travel independently. The ability to use public transit like Omnitrans and sbX opens up many more opportunities for them.
“Many of our students have employable skills,” says Ms. Kim. “They desire employment but are hampered by their lack of transportation. Public transportation makes it possible for our students to continue into adulthood with a sense of independence and, as a result, live a higher quality of life.”
See more photos from the class field trip on Flickr!
- Juno Kughler Carlson
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