Operating as a rolling Family Center, the soon-to-be completed Learn With Us Bus will literally come to parents and children in St. Charles Parish.
The bus is not only a first for the parish School District, but is likely one for the state, said Kevin Nicholas, the school district’s director of Federal Programs.
“The concept is taking what we have in family centers in our six elementary schools and making it mobile,” Nicholas said. “We can reach more children at our family centers, but not everyone can get to a center. Some children stay at home with grandparents or with their parents, and this is a way to get those resources to them and help them with learning at home.”
The project is in line with the School District’s move to expand pre-K education.
The concept was suggested by former Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker, who sent photos of a learning bus in Petal, Miss., Nicholas said. They dedicated a surplus bus that will include tables for Chromebooks where parents can check grades, sign up for free lunches and more.
“Basically, it’ll be a large carpeted empty space where they can conduct a small lesson for parents and children,” he said. “It’s supporting parents in learning with their children.”
Completion of the bus has included the work and coordination of various school system departments: the Satellite Center Digital Media Class, Hahnville High School Art Class, Hahnville High School Carpentry Department, and St. Charles Parish Public Schools’ Transportation Department.
The bus will provide books, toys, and games that parents can check out or children of preschool age through second grade, internet access for parents to access school forms and information, and information about additional community resources available to St. Charles Parish residents.
“The concept is taking what we have in family centers in our six elementary schools and making it mobile.” — Kevin Nicholas
The Learn With Us Bus will also offer playgroups, which are both a learning and support opportunity for parents and a ‘social’ playtime for children ages birth to 5 years old, he said. Playgroups for preschool children and their parents or caregiver will be held weekly.
Activities and programs are designed to provide entertainment, enrichment, and learning for young children.
The schedule for the Learn With Us Bus is currently being developed. The bus will visit different neighborhoods and communities across the parish and there is no cost to attend the playgroups or utilize the bus.
The project is being done in partnership with the United Way of St. Charles and School District. The bus is being fitted for air conditioning and Satellite Centers will design and complete the interior to make it conducive as a small learning center.
Nicholas added, “St. Charles Parish Public Schools looks forward to bringing this resource to our community.”
Education on wheels
- Former Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker presents photos of a learning bus in Petal, Miss., to Kevin Nicholas, asking if they make a similar one as a rolling Family Center. He said, “Yes.”
- Last school year, works begins on the project, but could not be completed before summer.
- School begins on Aug. 8 and work resumes on the bus by students at the Satellite Center.