MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — It’s not just students getting on the bus to head back to school, it’s teachers. One Ohio school district is trying it as a way to help teachers connect with the community.
What Charles Curtis is looking at brings back memories.
"This is like a road through memory lane," Curtis said. "I grew up on all these streets.”
He grew up in Middletown but this time he’s looking at it as a first-year teacher in his hometown and is planning to bring it back to the classroom.
“I was able to play basketball in college, come home and hopefully to be able to come back as a Black male and share my experiences,” he said.
He’s not alone: 180 Middletown teachers and staff were on the bus. Local police were their tour guide, and transit authority drivers were in the driver's seat. For almost two hours they went through neighborhoods where many of their students live.
It’s a first for the Middletown School District and the superintendent says there’s a reason behind it.
“It’s hugely important. It’s about immersing staff members into the community they serve, so it’s hard to understand the community you serve, if you’ve never been out into the community,” said Middletown Schools Superintendent Deborah Houser.
Veteran teacher Scott Reisbord said he’s seen efforts like this work in other districts in the past.
“I used to be a principal, and we used to make our teachers walk once a month with the students so they can get the same type of experience. It was great then and now," Reisbord said.
Long-time teacher Jamie Beason said she is picking up lessons she can use in the classroom on the way.
“It will definitely be a different way that will affect me, because there’s lots of good books about people and different environments and where they’re coming from,” Beason said.
For Curtis, it’s something coming back full circle, and he hopes to set the example, too.
“Be a positive role model, it’s just a great opportunity, I feel really blessed,” he said.