The Choice Bus shows students the power of their choices
by Gary Hanner
Mar 22, 2013 | 2738 views |  0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Once on The Choice Bus, students at Odenville Middle School listened to John Paul Taylor about the consequences of staying in school or dropping out of school.
Once on The Choice Bus, students at Odenville Middle School listened to John Paul Taylor about the consequences of staying in school or dropping out of school.
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Students at Odenville Middle School had the chance to visit a school bus like they had never visited last week.

They had a firsthand look at the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation’s Choice Bus. It is a half-classroom, half-prison cell setting designed to show students the power of their choices — choosing to stay in school and pursue their education, or choosing to drop out and risk their future.

The Choice Bus has impacted the lives of more than two million students in 19 states since it launched in Birmingham in 2008. Thanks to State Farm’s partnership, The Choice Bus visited more than 1,000 students last week alone.

OMS school teacher Nick Messier said this group of people make a big difference in the lives of students.

“They lead kids to understand the association of not only making good choices, but choosing to stay in school,” Messier said.

John Paul Taylor is the presenter on the Choice Bus, something he has been doing for the past three years.

“This is a tool for the schools to show the effects of dropping out of school, and showing the positive side of staying in school.” Taylor said. “It talks about different career choices.”

Edwin Brasher drives The Choice Bus. He is a retired banker.

“I see good coming out of this program, so I think it is worth my time to do this,” Brasher said.

A grant by State Farm provides The Choice Bus the opportunity to visit schools, along with the InsideOut Toolkit. Each Toolkit contains a Teacher’s Guide, a Stay in School Pledge Card and the InsideOut documentary—a 26-minute DVD that exposes the real story of the devastating and lasting effects of dropping out of school, told by those who live with the consequences every day: prison inmates. The documentary and companion Teacher’s Guide have been used in classrooms and community centers in 47 states and Canada and viewed by more than 15 million students, parents and community leaders.

“We are proud partners of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation’s Choice Bus and InsideOut tools,” said Emily Clark, State Farm Insurance Public Affairs specialist. “We know the importance of helping students understand the power of their choices.

“Choosing to complete their high school education is the best choice our students can make to ensure an educated and prepared workforce for the future. That’s why we believe The Choice Bus truly makes a difference in our schools and communities.”

“The Choice Bus experience allows students to envision two dramatically different futures and sends a powerful message about the value of education,” said Sherri Stewart, Executive Director of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. “The major focus during the presentation is showing young people what education can do for them and how it’s connected to career choices and lifetime earning potential.”

State Farm and MCSF have partnered for the last three years to bring The Choice Bus to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and additional State Farm territories. State Farm is committed to staying connected to the community by partnering with schools and organizations to help build safe, strong and educated communities.

Dr. Shelley Stewart is founder and president of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation

“Education is the key to a successful life. We need to show every child that they have the potential to pursue a career and make a good living,” said Dr. Shelley Stewart, Founder and President of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. “That’s why we are grateful to State Farm for helping us further our mission to increase the graduation rate in Alabama and across the nation.”

To learn more about The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation and The Choice Bus, visit www.mattiecstewart.org.

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