A group of students from Pine Road Elementary School in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, found themselves bored out of their minds and ready to start panicking one afternoon when they found themselves stuck on their school bus for over four hours during a snowstorm.
The storm had created the dangerous situation that resulted in the accident, and the road closure as a result left the bus full of kids stranded without a way to get home. It was freezing outside; traffic was at a complete stop, and they had no idea what was going to happen.
Being trapped in an enclosed space is hard enough for anyone, and the elementary school kids found themselves struggling to remain calm. They had very little to entertain themselves with, no reassurance that they’d be heading home soon, and only the bus driver as a familiar, adult face.
One of the kids, though, was lucky enough to have a cell phone handy. And when he called his mom to let her know what had happened, her call to the school’s principal inspired an incredible distraction tactic on the principal’s part.
Dr. Brian Swank, the principal for Pine Road Elementary, gave the young boy’s phone a call.
“[The fifth grader] said, ‘Dr. Swank, everyone is freaking out, especially the young kids,’” Swank explained later, via WPVI.
“So, I decided to switch over to FaceTime. I was hopeful that a familiar face would have a calming influence on them.”
While the students gathered around the phone’s screen, he had the idea to start reading them a story. Pulling some age-appropriate books—“You Belong Here” by M.H. Clark and “Oh! What a Surprise!” by Suzanne Bloom—he had the older kids on the bus to gather the younger ones close.
Swank then read to them until someone was able to get the bus on its way and get everyone home safely.
It wasn’t long before the kids were distracted by the books, something that Swank was proud to have done. Although he now works in an administrative role overseeing the school, he admitted after the unexpected snow day scenario that he never stops teaching.
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
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