My creative journey started with me wanting to be a fine artist. When I discovered theatre and film, I strived to be a successful actor and director. After having a child, I devoted myself to making a steady income as an advertising creative director. READ MY BIO >
I never imagined that one day I would be driving a school bus with kids calling me “Mr. Scott.”
I left advertising to start The “V” Channel, a concept inspired by my experience using virtues to raise my son. Filled with enthusiasm and lofty expectations, I committed myself fulltime to developing the proposition of producing entertaining and educational content based on virtues.
I did not anticipate how challenging it would be to raise money to sustain my efforts. After living off savings for two years I needed to find a job. Luck was on my side. A friend-of-a-friend owned the largest school bus company in Brooklyn.I got my Commercial Driver’s License, joined the Teamsters and started waking up very early to drive kids to school.
Driving a school bus offers me the perfect schedule. Between trips I go home to my office and work on The “V” Channel doing research, preparing presentations, developing content and much more.
It’s a long day, beginning at 4:30 AM and ending at 7:30 PM.
I’m willing to put in the time because I believe there is a need for The “V” Channel. Young people deserve positive guidance that is engaging, meaningful and relevant.
The best thing about driving a school bus is getting to know the kids. On the first day I introduce myself as “Mr. Scott”, and I give them each a handout on Reliability to emphasize the importance of being on time for their morning pick-up. I follow up with handouts on Friendliness, Kindness and Respect. The older kids get more serious handouts on Truthfulness, Consideration and Humility. Throughout the school year I give them more than a dozen handouts.
Last year I was assigned Route K572 in deep Brooklyn.
The neighborhoods are tough, and so were some of the boys and girls who got on my bus. Drivers and escorts are taught in training classes not to challenge or confront a child who is acting out. Procedure requires we file a report with the school Principal and the Office of Pupil Transportation. If a child is violent or dangerous, we are instructed by the dispatcher to call the police.
Many drivers ignore the kids on their bus to avoid confrontation. They just drive. I understand and respect their approach to the job. I choose to engage the youth on my route, and I do my best to teach virtues and try to inspire them to be the very best they can be.
It’s not always a smooth ride.
On one occasion, two boys in their early teens were on the verge of a fistfight as they got on the bus after school.
One kid shouted, “I’m gonna kick your ass!”
The other kid shouted back, “Fuck you!”
The boys were wound tight and ready to explode. If they started brawling everyone on the bus would be in danger. I pulled over and parked the bus, set the emergency brake and turned on the hazard lights. The arguement continued, along with more insults and threats.
Using my most theatrical voice, I bellowed, “What’s up?!”
“He pushed me!”
“He stepped on my sneakers!”
I barked back like an alpha dog, “Stop! Right! Now!” That got everyone’s attention.
There was total silence.
Recognizing the teachable moment, I spoke in a firm, respectful voice, “I understand how you guys feel. It’s normal to get angry when you feel ‘dissed. But let’s all take a deep breath.” I led by example. I inhaled and exhaled slowly.
“You have two choices; you can let your anger build to the point where you hurt each other, or you can ‘choose to defuse'”. I raised the “V” sign and looked the boys in the eyes. “You can choose virtues.” I said with total conviction.
I would have liked to sit down with the boys and listen to both sides of their story, but we needed to get back on the road and get everyone home on time. As I climbed into the driver’s seat I reminded all the kids on the bus, “Virtues empower us to rise above negativity. No matter how pissed-off we are, we can choose peacefulness over violence. We can choose tolerance when we feel ‘dissed. We can choose forgiveness, even when someone steps on our sneakers.”
Later, while stopped at a red light, one of the boys sitting behind me whispered, “Yo, Mr. Scott.”
There was urgency in his voice. He repeated himself, “I said, yo! Mr. Scott!”
I looked at him in the rearview mirror.
He asked, “Do you think I should say I’m sorry?” His eyes were filled with sincerity.
I smiled. “Give yourself a pat on the back” I replied. “You’re choosing responsibly.”
When we arrived at his stop he turned to the other boy and said, “I’m sorry I stepped on your sneakers.”
The other boy responded, “I’m sorry I pushed you.”
It is truly amazing to witness the transformation in kids’ attitudes and behavior when we recognize and acknowledge their virtues.
Throughout the school year I regularly talked with the kids on Route K572 about how we can all activate our virtues to resolve conflicts, to overcome adversity and achieve our personal goals, to rise above the negative influences in a complex world and to simply reveal a little goodness each day.
To express my appreciation, and to inspire them to keep choosing virtues, I wrote a rhyme to acknowledge their unique qualities of goodness. We even made a video, which evolved in a mini-documentary about our experience. It features a montage of the kids, and includes an interview with me, “Mr. Scott”, talking and rhyming, “Virtues everyday, make us better in each and every way.”
I showed the kids the video on the last day of school. They laughed and said, “Yo, Mr. Scott, you can’t rap!” I could tell they were touched and inspired. You will be too.
I also edited an extended version that includes an overview of The Five Strategies of the Virtues ProjectTM. The strategies are what make the practice of virtues come alive and help us bring out the best in children.
Click here to watch the extended version (14:00 running time): >
As much as I enjoy driving a school bus, my ambition is to work fulltime on The “V” Channel. I actively search for financial backing from charitable foundations, wealthy individuals and corporate sponsors to support my vision of hiring talented media makers to produce entertainment that educates. The goal of The “V” Channel is to give parents, teachers, coaches and school bus drivers, simple and unique ways to share virtues and bring out the best in kids of all ages.
Who knows, maybe someday every school bus driver will be giving a shout-out to their kids, saying “V” for Virtues!
STAY TUNED TO THE “V” CHANNEL.
As we raise additional funding we’ll produce new content and improve our website. Our goal is to build a world-class online destination and social media network offering ‘edutainment’ for viewing at home, in school, and on mobile devices.
Special thanks to The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Kavelin Popov with Dr. Dan Popov Ph.D., and John Kavelin, and The Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.
“The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project” is a trademark of The Virtues Project International Association.
©2016 THE “V” CHANNEL CORPORATION.