One Teacher Makes a Difference

Carol PulleyWe frequently hear about successful programs getting more youth bicycling and walking to school. But behind those programs are one or more dedicated people, often teachers that make it happen. Pat Davidson is one of them. In 1991, Gulf Breeze Elementary School hired her to teach physical education, but Pat went beyond the balls & bats curriculum to incorporate some new ideas in Florida.

It all started with Safe Ways to School, a program to help children get to and from school more safely. The Florida legislature passed a bill in support. As part of it, a curriculum was developed in traffic education for children. Regional trainers were recruited and I was one of them.      

I met Pat when she was one of the first teachers to attend the training. Every year Pat taught the traffic education curriculum to all grade levels and startedBike Fest Florida Bike to School days. At the culmination of the traffic education unit she held a Bike Fest.  

Pat was instrumental in getting a path built behind the three adjoining schools, so children could access the schools by bicycling and walking without interacting with traffic on a major highway or the parent pick-up line. She also helped locate convenient bicycle racks for the children coming in on the path.

This week, 21 years after she was hired, I went back to chat with Pat and found she is still doing the traffic education curriculum for all grades.  The program is still going strong.  Here is what Pat had to say about this year’s Bike Fest:Bike Fest Florida

“The fourth and fifth 5th grades will do a community bike ride for 35-40 minutes. Faculty members, community volunteers and parents will assist in taking groups of 10 to 15 students out on the sidewalks and roadways where they can practice what they learned in the bike safety unit. We will be riding single file, stopping at intersections, making left and right turns and speaking to and giving the right-of-way to any pedestrians we meet along the way. Volunteers will assist the kids and help them to ride safely to school and back before and after Bike Fest. The 2nd and 3rd grade students will be participating in a bike rodeo. They will complete eight stations that will involve the same practical elements of bike safety as the 4th and 5th grade students have learned, but in a controlled environment. This year we are planning to host over 600 kids at the event.”

Thanks Pat! You can count on the Safe Routes Partnership to keep working so that there are more stories like this.