An Effective Driver’s Ed Class
Many students at Hanover High take Driver’s Ed in Vermont. The system seems to work pretty well. Teens get their permit, take the class, drive the required time, pass the test, and become a licensed driver. From a parent’s point of view, the class is a great concept, helping their children learn how to be a safe and smart driver. Although from some students’ point of view, it’s just another required class that they have to sit through if they want to drive. They believe that the class teaches them just how to pass the test, but doesn’t make a difference in what kind of driver they become. The belief in the effectiveness of Driver’s Ed programs varies from person to person depending on their position with it. Students, instructors, and parents all feel differently about the course’s effectiveness and even purpose.
Katelyn Hurd, a sophomore at Hanover, finished her class at Yankee Driving School with her instructor, Gabi Netsch. Hurd, a Sharon, Vermont, resident, will be able to take her driver’s test in early April. Her family paid 500 dollars for the class that started in October and ended in late November. Hurd explained how reasonable her and her family found this price, stating, “We don’t know what we’re paying for before going to the class. But the instructors dedicate their lives to driving kids around so I guess it’s reasonable.” Although Hurd said that there were “a lot of things in general” missing from the course, she still feels that it has been worth the time and the price.
Hurd’s course curriculum focused around the Drive Right textbook, videos, and review quizzes from textbook reading and class. “We never learned how to pump gas”, Hurd said. “We did more textbook-type learning.” With the class now over, Hurd said that she feels prepared to become a licensed driver but “Not really from the class. Once I practice more and do more driving time with Gabi I think I will be.”
Gabi Netsch of Yankee Driving School has been teaching for eight years and “loves being an instructor.” She strongly believes that driving is a big part of teenager’s lives and that her job is very important. Kids need to take the class seriously because it is not a joke. She believes her class puts pressure on students to understand and use their skills but does not push them as hard as an academic class in school. Ms. Netsch stated, “I want the kids to respect driving and understand how important my class is.” She cares about her students and likes to hear how they are doing after they finish her class and have their licenses. “I tell students my goal is for you to become the very best driver you can be and to know the most rules you can. I will teach how people break the rules and that your job is to stay safe and be aware of others doing stupid things in their cars. You can’t control them but you can control yourself if you know what to look for.” Netsch focuses her classes on individual responsibilities when driving.
Sophie Cardenali also took her class with Ms. Netsch during the summer of 2014. She is now a junior at HHS and has her driver’s license. Cardenali said, “I didn’t learn a whole lot in driver’s ed that I didn’t already know. Just small rules about road signs and what you have to follow and what is just kind of optional.”
Some students feel that their class focused too much on specific topics and not enough on others. Cardenali said, “I think my class spent way too much time watching videos about drunk driving and drugs. I feel like one thing that could’ve been changed was the amount of bloody emergency room videos. I felt it was not necessary to better the understanding of the class.”
Camie Rediker, who learned the rules of the road from Richard Kearney in Woodstock, Vermont, had similar opinions to Hurd and Cardenali. She enjoyed the class and learned how to “change a tire and pump gas and other skills that are more geared to car maintenance that driving.” Rediker, who obtained her license in September, would still take the class if it was optional because “The laws that there are about driving are different than what they were for my parents.” If she did not take the course, her parents would be her only teachers.
Although it really depends on the laws and separate courses and instructors, Driver’s Ed teaches students how to pass their test and get their licenses. For some families, that’s what they’re paying for because they may need their child to be a driver. But for other roadway users, they need teen drivers to be safe and smart so that they do not put others at danger. Instructors like Gabi Netsch are the kinds of teachers that really care about their students’ intelligence and safety. Although most parents are for Driver’s Ed, it is definitely something to be looked into before choosing just a local course.