Three Hillhouse educators were honored at City Hall Thursday night for their level heads and tenacity in getting a busload of high schoolers through a college tour despite bus trouble.
Dixwell Alder and Hillhouse alum Jeanette Morrison recounted at the meeting how on Oct. 29 she, three educators from the school (her alma mater), and 28 students were stranded in Maryland on a broken down bus. It was pouring rain. They hadn’t reached their destination.
The students were headed south to North Carolina to visit historically black colleges and universities and to get a taste of what it might be like to attend school outside of Connecticut. The trip was supposed to wind its way from North Carolina, through Virginia, to Maryland and Delaware.
They waited three hours for a mechanic who ultimately couldn’t get the part needed to fix the bus. So there they sat.
“We sat with 28 hungry kids for seven hours,” Morrison recalled.
That’s when Hillhouse Guidance Counselor Olafemi Hunter, Home Economics teacher Demetria McMillan and Spanish teacher Adesina DeYounge kicked into action, working the phones and keeping students calm. The bus company, Kelley Transit Services of Torrington, refused to provide another bus so the trip could continue.
“These three individuals worked and worked with the mayor, our superintendent and our lovely transportation director,” Morrison said. “We got a new bus, a new company and we continued on this trip.”
Because of the level heads of the educators on the bus, she said, the students weren’t thrown off their game as they met administrators at the colleges on the trip. In fact, Morrison said, the students came back with 42 onsite acceptance to the universities they visited.
“When we got on that bus, there were four adults and 28 kids,” Morrison said. “When we came back on the seventh, we had three educators, an alder, and 28 young adults.”
Alders Thursday night presented the three educators with a citation and thanked them for their efforts.
“It’s really important the type of role models we have for our children, and you’re around our kids sometimes more than the parents because they have to work,” Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Myers said. “You always step up. You were on a bus full of kids and you stayed level-headed and made sure the kids were safe.”