After four-and-a-half hours stuck in traffic on a school bus, elementary students from Pine Road Elementary School in Pennsylvania were at their wits’ end.
Understandably so — the kids, accustomed to just a 30-minute commute, found themselves hopelessly trapped on the highway after a car collision in wintry conditions brought all traffic to a standstill.
The kids and bus driver tried to wait patiently, but really, how can anyone expect a group of schoolkids to remain calm and well-behaved after four hours on a bus?
Kids were starting to get hungry and worried and, of course, very antsy. One fifth-grade student called his mom to tell her that he was OK, but admitted everyone was having a hard time waiting on the bus.
The boy’s mom called the school principal, who immediately thought of a way to help his students from afar.
Dr. Brian Swank, principal of Pine Road Elementary, called Gavin Blumhardt, the boy who’d phoned his mom.
“He said, ‘Dr. Swank, everyone is freaking out, especially the young kids,’” Swank told WPVI.
“So, I decided to switch over to FaceTime. I was hopeful that a familiar face would have a calming influence on them.”
I just FaceTimed with our students that are still stuck on buses. They are warm and in good spirits. I read them some books and assured them that the grown-ups are working hard to get them home safely.
—Dr. Swank pic.twitter.com/3ppc5cL0PF
— Pine Road (@LMTSD_PRES) November 15, 2018
Swank said the older students helped gather everyone together so they could watch and listen to him read two books: “You Belong Here” by M.H. Clark and “Oh! What a Surprise!” by Suzanne Bloom.
The students were soon settled calmly into the stories, thankful for the distraction and captivated by the principal’s animated reading.
“I’ll never stop being a teacher,” Swank said. “Every good teacher knows that there is nothing better than a good read-aloud. Kids of all ages love being read to.”
Ultimately, the students all got home safely, to the relief of bus drivers, parents and Swank.
Swank was quick to praise the school’s transportation staff for handling the situation with patience and professionalism.
“Kudos to our drivers and transportation team for their efforts,” Swank said. “They were the unsung heroes of the day. They were incredible.”
Swank added that students always love snow days — but this particular one will go down in history as one of the most bizarre, memorable snow days ever.
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