Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho – It’s Back to School We Go!
Fernando Martinez and Joyce Cunningham, Safe Routes to School Local Outreach Coordinators for Texas Bicycle Coalition have been busy working on school campuses in recent weeks. Olsen Park, Avondale and Forest Hill elementary schools in Amarillo were the sites of Traffic and Hand Counts and Environmental Surveys. The counts and surveys are part of the evaluation that will help determine the effectiveness of the Safe Routes program.
November 8th, Olsen Park’s Principal Alan Nickson, welcomed the duo and provided assistance through their Volunteers In Public Schools (VIPS) program. Suzzane Nair arrived bright eyed and ready to count at 7:30am. Her help was invaluable during the 8 o’clock rush. A well-choreographed dance of motor vehicles, bicycles, skateboard, pedestrians and work crew made it throughto a perfect start of the school day. Physical Education Teacher Eva Kennedy allowed tha hand count during her 4th and 5th grade classes. Kennedy attended the Coalition’s SuperCyclist Teacher Training on October 15, 2005. She and the students are ready for spring to put into practice the techniques she learned at the training to promote safe bicycling.
November 11th, Avondale’s very own “Can – Do” Principal, Doug Burke, volunteered to count students. That’s right. The principal himself helped with the traffic and hand counts. He stood at the north entrance and did traffic count. Then, he personally took Martinez and Cunningham to three 4th and two 5th grade classes to get the hand counts. The man never stopped! After the hand counts he said goodbye and immediately went to the auditorium to help the custodian set up for a choir recital to be performed that morning by one of the local high schools.
Burke told us that he usually arrives at 7:00am. He started riding his bike to school when the gas prices reached $3. Trying to reach him by phone is difficult, offered a school staffer. He usually spends the mornings visiting each classroom. He knows most of the students by sight and can call them by name. Burke is actively involved in all aspects of his school from staff, students, parents and programs to facilities, buildings and grounds. He takes well-deserved personal pride in it all.
December 1st, Shatera Kanally, physical education teacher at Forest Hill Elementary School, volunteered to assist with the traffic and hand count. Temperatures in the high teens and wind chills in the low teens greeted 553 students that morning. Principal Mark Webster and school staff were in jovial spirits as they teased and offered hot chocolate and coffee to the numb counters.
Courageous volunteers Chris Podzemny (Xtreme Sports bike shop owner) and Steve Hayward (Amarillo bike advocate) shared the chilling early morning experience. Two high-volume streets dissect the industrial from residential communities that border this school adding to the chaos and congestion. Shatera has invited us to return in the spring to help with her planned outing-at-school day.
Cunningham and Martinez could not have completed the counts without the valuable support and help of the school staff members and volunteers. Many thanks to all!