Lowell, Massachusetts, science teacher John King thrives on interactive, hands-on lessons for his sixth graders.
So when the pandemic forced schools into remote learning last March, King was completely out of his element. And without reliable Internet at his West Townsend home, he had to find public wifi to even reach his students.
“I sat in my little yellow car and taught my lessons from March until June and realized that that was not going to work out,” King said.
That’s when he found this bus in an online auction for $6,000.
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“We bought her and ripped out all the seats,” King said.
He got a wifi hotspot and he turned the bus he now affectionately calls “Audrey” into a mobile classroom.
“When he first showed me the bus, I thought to myself, ‘Oh good Lord, what is this going to be?’ But he really turned it into something that gets the kids wanting to come to class,” Wang Middle School Principal Matthew Stahl said.
Sixth grade student Kyle Novo said, “It’s been really interesting having a teacher teach from a bus.”
Classmate Josephine Ogunseye said, “We could just like read a book about the place we’re visiting, but instead we get to like go there and actually see the things in person.”
Not truly in-person, of course, with coronavirus precautions in place – but King and his wife have outfitted Audrey with beds for themselves and traveled across the state to bring real-world science lessons to his students stuck at home.
“We go to Cape Cod and learn about erosion,” sixth grader Timmy Sullivan said.
His classmate Logan Uy added, “He took us to this dinosaur fossil place, and it was really cool.”
King says he’s just doing his job.
“I could have gone to school and sat in an empty room and taught that way,” said King, “but by doing this I’m giving them more experiences than I would be able to do if we were in person even.”
Even when school gets back to normal, King said, he hopes to still be able to use his mobile classroom to take students on virtual field trips.