Drivers education teachers differ in school and outside

Sophie Karrow, In-Depth Editer

With a shaky breath, a prayer from Dad in the passenger seat, and a twist of the key, the engine roars to life for a teenager for the first time. At 15 most American teenagers enter the world of driving. When deciding where to complete driver’s education one should consider who is teaching the class and how they were trained.

One consideration to make before choosing where to take driver’s ed is knowing how the adult in front of the room was trained. Physical, Health, & Driver Education Department Chair Courtney White takes pride in the fact that a certified teacher instructs the driver education program at DGN.

“You have to become a teacher, and then go back to school in order to be qualified to teach driver’s ed. They are being held to the same standard as your English teacher,” White said.

Teacher Theodore Glazier received the credentials to teach driver’s ed while in college.

“I obtained a bachelor’s degree in physical education with athletic training, a health minor and a
driver education endorsement,” Glazier said. “Requirements included over 30 semester hours of coursework in Driver Training and Safety. There are also requirements to observe. I completed a practical driving course, that was similar to a student teaching experience, where I was required to teach students to drive.”

Students like junior Angela Wong liked the normal classroom dynamic of driver’s ed through school.
“I really appreciated having an adult I was familiar with and students in the class that knew me and could help me,” Wong said.

Unlike the teacher certification and driving instructor endorsement the teacher’s at DGN recieved through a college, Top Driver requires a training program. The Director of Curriculum and Training at
Top Driver is Jim Mihalovich.

“Depending on the credentials and previous experience of the trainee, this training takes anywhere between two and 10 weeks. We start out in small group training, covering the basic administration and processes of employment introducing the intricate details and facilitation of our proprietary Driver Intelligence™ curriculum. They progress to the “student teaching” practical component of training. They are assigned to train at the Education Center that they will be teaching at once training is complete,” Mihalovich said.

In order to be a driving instructor for Top Driver, instructors must meet certain criteria outside of the training they go through. Top Driver instructor Matthew Jordan explains this criteria.

“To be an instructor you need a clean driving record and be able to get 100% on the State of Illinois Secretary of State Driving Instructor exam,” Jordan said.

Senior Callie Thomas enjoyed the Top Driver experience, but could tell that there were some major differences.

“The class was pretty awkward since most of the kids didn’t go to North. We all listened to the teacher but by the 2nd hour of class we were exhausted and not engaged at all,” Thomas said. “The Top Driver instructors are really nice and I would compare them fairly equally to a normal teacher, it’s just different since they’re dealing with kids from all over who typically have no desire to talk.”

Despite the differences in teaching style, Top Driver and driver’s education through DGN are both geared towards creating drivers of the next generation who know how to drive safely. It’s all about preference. Teacher training and classroom environment are important factors.