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Positive Action Hits the Road-in a Bus

The middle school and high school students of Esmerelda County School District spend three to five hours a day riding a bus across the backstretches of the border between California and Nevada for after-school activities like sports and debate. Located in rural Nevada, Esmerelda is the smallest school district in the United States. It consists of a handful of teachers and 65 students in mining communities with limited financial resources.

Based on these challenges, Superintendent Curtis Jordan and his team wrote a competitive grant to create a mobile classroom focusing on drug risk and protective factors, behavioral education, study time, tutoring, mentoring, and counseling for middle school and high school students. The result of their efforts was the creation of a student activity bus for which Positive Action provided the curriculum.

The activity bus is equipped with a video and DVD player, and blends commercial movies with Positive Action activities to intrigue the students while teaching them lifelong lessons. “We had to tailor the program to the students’ needs,” explains Mary Hetzel, the activity bus instructor. She is essential to the program’s success and is passionate about helping these rural students achieve to the best of their abilities.

“The bus generates a lot of opportunities for the kids to talk about what’s going on with them and to help them make better decisions,” explains Hetzel. “I’ve noticed better behaviors, better choices, and…their grades are good.” Esmerelda County is experiencing success in the second year of the three-year grant, and hopes to create a model program for other rural communities.