NEW BROCKTON, Ala. (WTVY) - For some students, being at school can be an escape from reality. That's why one Coffee County principal was determined to make sure his teachers understand where their students come from.
"To me, that's like an inside into the unknown,” said bus driver Ben Green. "A student comes to school and starts having problems and you don't know what those problems are.”
Green has been a Coffee County Schools bus driver for ten years. He and the other drivers are the only school employees who see students at the places they lay their heads at night.
"You never know what people are going through. You just don't know unless you’ve lived that life."
Green said every bus driver picks up kids in low income areas. 60% of the student body at New Brockton Elementary School comes from poverty. That's why Principal Jason Hadden made it a priority for every teacher to take a bus trip into the neighborhoods where some students live.
"If you are going to try and engage a child in the classroom, what affects that? The social aspect does, where they go when they leave the school building” said Principal Hadden. "My teachers need to realize when a child leaves this school, they don't go home with the teachers, they go home to a different environment."
Now, teachers like Joni Jones have a better understanding of her second grader students.
"I wanted to be sure that I greet them with a smile and a hug. Let them know that this classroom is a safe place where they can feel loved and wanted. I just want to be an encouragement to them,” said Jones.
Hadden says this project was the most powerful thing he's ever experienced in education.
Friday was the first day of school for Coffee County students.