When Students Can't Get to School, This School Comes to Them

Education on wheels

May 2, 2019

We have a feeling the animated Mrs. Frizzle would whole heartily approve of this ‘magic’ school bus. Instead of dropping students to their school campuses, this method of transport brings class to them. The renovated automobile has everything students of all ages need to earn their high school diploma. It’s catered to those who cannot commute back and forth to campus, whether due to a demanding schedule, single parenthood, or fear of getting caught in the crossfires of gang violence. The ingenious solution provides supplies, facilities, resources, and equipment to some of the poorest neighborhoods of San Francisco.

This is The Self-Determination Project bus. Launched by the Five Keys Charter School in 2017, the organization serves 5,000 eager learners around the city. The library, internet, study spaces, desks, and teachers are available free of charge to students after signing up.

Emerald Montes, a 17-year-old Five Keys student, grew up in an especially dangerous area that’s dominated by gang violence. “When I was 14 and 15, I couldn’t go to school. I was just doing so much bad stuff, it prevented me from going to school. At Five Keys, the difference is they are more flexible. I’m a busy young woman now. I have a job and an internship.”

The Self-Determination Project makes it possible for thousands of students to take the first step in pursuing higher education and expanding their possibilities and potential in the workforce. It gives anyone the chance to change their life who grew up with few opportunities that would allow them to achieve their goals and start anew.

In many places, education is a privilege, when it should be a right. Five Keys is closing the gap so that everyone has the same chance to achieve the American Dream, a milestone, once reached, celebrated by millions of others throughout history.

Students from San Francisco neighborhoods are already seeing the positive changes the bus brings. Recent graduate, Rena Ortiz believes the bus provides more than a good education.

“I feel as if this bus is going to change so much. Being able to walk out of my house and see a bus that’s full of education—that is hope on wheels.”

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REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.