Bus driver’s book program recognized with award

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.”

John Nykiforuk

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, Nykiforuk goes to garage sales to buy new books and swaps them out with old ones for variety. The moving library, which started with ten 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.

GREG NESTEROFF

Black Press Reporter

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read