Safe Routes to School National Course Training in Yakima

Photos by the author except where noted otherwise.

Earlier this Fall I had the opportunity to participate in a Safe Routes to School National Course Training put on by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and co-sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Feet First and Washington Bikes. The course was conducted October 24th-27th in Yakima, Washington and drew trainees from around the country, from northern and southern California, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Washington. This intensive three day training, prepared me and my co-trainees to teach the one-day SRTS National Course. The training was sponsored by the Safe Routes to School

During this training we observed the one-day course being taught in collaboration with Union Gap Elementary School, learned the curriculum, did research on local conditions, met the community, practiced teaching and then taught the course. Trainee instructors split into two groups to teach their course at two different elementary schools (Summitview Elementary and Adams Elementary). Over the three day course, the one-day course was delivered to three audiences regarding three elementary schools.

Day One: Observing the course being taught for Union Gap Elementary

The day began with a lecture and slide show, followed by a field exercise to observe existing conditions around the school. The following few photos are from our walk around the school.

Improvements to an intersection near Union Gap Elementary

Walking along the north perimeter of the school grounds
One lonely bicycle at the bike rack

Back in the office, participants in the Union Gap Elementary course look at the aerial photo and discuss potential design interventions
Participants in the Union Gap Elementary course discuss potential design interventions
The first day of the course involved observing two seasoned SRTS National Course instructors teach the course to a live audience, consisting primarily of WSDOT employees. The one-day course includes lectures, fieldwork, small group activities and a meeting with the school principal.

Day Two: Preparing to teach the Summitview class
The second day involved preparing to teach the course by practicing the course material and getting familiar with the school that the class would work with. As I mentioned earlier, the trainees split into two groups to teach the course at two different elementary schools.
Summitview Elementary School

My group worked with Summitview Elementary in the West Valley School District in Yakima, WA. In the morning we visited the school to observe student arrival and meet with the Principal of Summitview, Crystal McDonald. During our school visit we learned that there is a strong encouragement program at Summitview, working to keep students interested in active transportation.

The Golden Shoe Award at Summitview Elementary 
Looking west from the bus loading area, note recently painted crosswalk accross parking lot 
Students on their way to scool at Summitview Elementary (note student safety patrol)
In the afternoon we studied the curriculum and practiced teaching the modules of the class that we would teach the next day. 

Day Three: Teaching the Summitview class
On the third day of the training we delivered the course to an audience including folks from the school, Yakima city government, WSDOT as well as consultants and public sector employees from the Yakima area and from western Washington. We began with a series of lectures in the morning punctuated by breaks. At lunch time we had the special guests pictured below come and talk to the course participants.
Me with co-trainees and members of the student safety patrol from Summitview Elementary (Mike Cynecki Photo)

After lunch we had an interactive session on problems and solutions, two brief lectures and then we went to observe the student dismissal. After observing the dismissal time we returned to the classroom and discussed the field observations using maps and aerial photos to discuss possible design and enforcement interventions to improve safety around the school.

Aerial photo and map of the school zone facilitate discussion among participants 
Deep in thought
Conversing around the aerial photo of the school zone
Participants present back to the larger group after small group work based on the field exercise
Moving Forward
Folks that are interested in hosting the one-day Safe Routes to School National Course in their Washington community should direct their inquiries to  There is a fee for the course, which will vary depending on location and logistics and we will require a local coordinator to collaborate on logistics. The course is highly educational and also has the potential to galvanize a community around a Safe Rouetes to School program or campaign.

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