WESTERVILLE, Ohio — What started out as a conversation with moms of students wanting the best for their children turned into something much more.

That being a full-fledged after-school tutoring program brought to their neighborhood on wheels.

What You Need To Know

  • The Big Bus launched in 2022 and picked up steam in 2023 by visiting students in the Abbey Lane Apartment complex 

  • Tutors currently from Westerville City Schools volunteer their time to help K-5 students in all subjects

  • Founder Tracy Davidson hopes to expand soon with another bus to accommodate middle and high school students

  • To learn more about volunteering, click here

Tracy Davidson, Westerville City Schools Board of Education President and Founder of The Big Bus, said the idea all started with wanting to learn more about the district’s diverse population. Volunteering on another project, she got a chance to meet and talk to moms in the Abbey Lane Apartment complex.

There she learned how challenging it was for not just mothers, but entire families to progress, as many had come from other countries and refugee camps. Struggling with English as a second language, she took the hopes of those she spoke with and set out on a mission to start helping the youngest ones first.

“They felt like they were already far behind. So, they wanted help, not just with tutoring, but the language,” she said.

With the help of a sponsor to take care of the executive director’s salary for five years and a team, they purchased and transformed a school bus into a mobile classroom.

While it took some time to get up and running, they’ve seen a steady stream of students from the district coming to the bus after school to get help, most of the time for math and reading. At least 20 to 25 kids show up each week.

Tutor David Walker explained that the tutoring is assisting kids in a way that they don’t always experience.

“A lot of these kids don’t get as much reinforcement at home that the other kids do,” Walker said.

Although they currently work with K-5 students, the plan is to expand so that parents can help their kids at home.

“We are gonna start our preschool program this summer,” said Davidson. “And while we’re doing the preschool program, we’re going to pull the moms in. We just purchased a curriculum that is really individualized, so it’ll help them… kind of meet them where they’re at and help them soar.”

In the meantime, Davidson said they’re looking to purchase another bus and turn it into a coffee to attract middle and high school students next year. 

Ultimately, she sees it as an opportunity for other districts to model after in the future. For now, the goal is to find additional sponsors and volunteer tutors. 

To learn more about volunteering, click here.