Alana Ellenburg is a force in her community. She builds relationships, is highly committed to everything she pursues, and is using her determination to make a national change in the traffic safety sphere. Her 23-year career as a teacher at Pepperell High School in Floyd County, GA is a testament to her fortitude. We recently heard from her on a number of topics when she joined us on a monthly Safe Kids Coordinator call. Here are the excerpts from that call.
Q: Tell us a little about you, what you teach at Pepperell High School and how you are involved in the TDS program?
Ms. Alana Ellenburg has been a teacher for over 23 years and teaches Real Life Skills to freshman at Pepperell High School. The TDS team is the part of the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decision) club and they currently have about 20 members. They have been a program school since TDS first offered the program in Georgia in 2011. New this year SADD members hold various leadership positions (President, V.P., etc.), which are rotated each month in order to help share the work, but in past years students felt like having an Executive Council would be a better fit. Ms. Ellenburg stated the key to having student participation is to remember to be flexible with the students, this will also help get the buy-in from the students, and they will be more likely engaged in what you are doing. It is also important to reach them on social media or via text – again remaining flexible based on their needs. Ms. Ellenburg noted that students participate for three reasons: 1. free t-shirts, 2. free food, and 3. field trips. Students, like adults, will participate if there is an incentive, so if they can get out of school then they will be more likely to participate.
Q: What do you do differently that makes your program work?
Through the years, Ms. Ellenburg has learned that it is important to build relationships with community members. For several years, the club would host a Safe Driving event, which was held in a parking lot of the K-Mart. That worked for several years, at the peak of the event, they would have over 300 participants, but year over year, the amount of participants started to dwindle. At the event, Ms. Ellenburg would invite the Sherriff’s office, Law Enforcement, Fire & EMS, Big Rig Truck, and a school bus; they would also set up inflatables to get the community involved. At the event, they would present various demonstrations like the Jaws of Life and Rollover Convincers. Since the turnout was not a big as they liked, they decided to go out into the community with traffic safety information. They have since been taking information out to the community, such as setting up at the local Chick-Fil-A in April, which is Teen Safe Driving Awareness Month.
Q: What project are you all currently working on?
Cycle Clap, which is a motorcycle awareness campaign. It’s a take on the Punch Bug game. Instead of punching at the sight of a VW bug, passengers are encouraged to clap and say the words “Cycle Clap” at the sight of a motorcycle. This is to alert the driver, and other in the vehicle, that there is motorcycle on the road, to help increase the awareness of the cyclists safety.
Q: Can you give us ways or ideas that coordinators could reach the right teachers?
Ms. Ellenburg encourages approaching the teacher that is already involved. They are the ones that are usually more willing to participate because they are the ones that get things done.
Q: What are some challenges?
As most people can image, having money is to do things have been a challenge. She noted that field trips take funding (from school transportation, to teachers being required to pay for substitutes), so in order for the students to be able to get more field trips, they do the work to earn money. With the Teens in the Driver Seat program, teams are able to up to $1,000 for their schools, through the TDS All-Stars. Other opportunities to earn cash is also available. Pepperell takes advantage of these opportunities to help purchase things for the club.