Books on Nelson bus encourage literacy

Web Lead

  • Sep. 28, 2011 8:00 a.m.

John Nykiforuk

When school bus driver John Nykiforuk took over the Blewett run outside Nelson a few years ago, the behaviour of some of his young passengers was “well, pretty bad.”

During the up to 45-minute run, boredom would result in disruptive and unruly antics. But one day, Nykiforuk read about a driver in the U.S. with a similarly lengthy route who started a reading program on her bus. After discussing it with the principal, he decided to try it himself.

He provided a box of books, encouraging students to choose one, find a buddy and read together until they reached their stop. It worked: behaviour improved markedly, with the side benefits of promoting reading and helping older and younger students build friendships.

This month Nykiforuk received a Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy community literacy award, chosen from among 16 Nelson-area nominees. The individuals, businesses, and organizations were all honoured at a ceremony that coincided with International Literacy Day. (Literacy awards are also presented annually in other communities where the alliance is active, although some do it in the spring.)

“All these simple acts of championing literacy make a huge difference in people’s lives,” says Joan Exley, Nelson’s community literacy co-ordinator. Nykiforuk, she adds, “found the seed of an idea that has grown into something wonderful.”

Blewett elementary principal Carol-Ann Leidloff says teachers appreciate that Nykiforuk brings students to school ready to learn.

“Sometimes they’re getting on the bus in the morning and they’re tired or grumpy. John’s always got a really friendly word for them,” she says. “So often the kids are off the bus and they’re happy and feeling good about the day. He takes his responsibility as a driver so seriously and does a job beyond what we would expect.”

Now in his third year of the book buddy program, Nyki-foruk goes to garage sales to buy new books and swaps them out with old ones for variety. The moving library, which started with 10 volumes, is up to 85. Students are also welcome to borrow books.

“It’s certainly helped me out as a bus driver,” Nykiforuk says, noting he no longer has to stop the bus at the side of the road to deal with problems.

But the most rewarding thing he’s witnessed wasn’t related to behaviour.

“A Grade 3 student picked up a book and a Grade 2 student sat beside her. The Grade 3 student was just flipping through the pages looking at the pictures. The Grade 2 student said ‘Why don’t you read it?’ She replied, ‘I can’t read.’ The Grade 2 student started reading the book for the Grade 3 student. And it created a bond.”

Nykiforuk has shared the idea with other bus drivers, and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy is talking to him and the school about publishing a book on bus safety, which the kids would work on — and then deposit in their on-board book box.

 

Just Posted

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

Creston police kept busy with unwanted guest complaints

Creston RCMP responded to 59 calls for assistance

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Rural residents could face higher fire protection costs

Erickson and Arrow Creek property owners will pay more for fire protection

Brewery workers claim more job losses

Interior Brewery Workers Local 308 says that Labatt Breweries of Canada is manipulating data to justify the loss of jobs at Creston’s 50-year-old brewery.

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Most Read