Alyssa Noland, a teacher at Chattahoochee High School in John’s Creek, Georgia, recently spoke to us about the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) work with Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS). Their team began with zero students and now has an impressive 25 students. Here’s how they started and how they achieved their great success.
Mrs. Noland began her teaching career five years ago at Chattahoochee High School. When she started at the beginning of the school year in 2015, she was approached about reengaging students in the SADD program, which had dwindled down to zero members. An enthusiastic Mrs. Noland agreed to take the lead of the program on and immediately recruited four students to participate. In February of the same school year, the team was first introduced to TDS at a SADD Youth Conference held in Georgia. It was an easy fit. They signed up for resources, received their kit, and immediately began outreach activities.
They quickly realized in order to do larger and more consistent activities they needed to grow their team and to partner with other groups. They began recruiting students by holding socials and participating in Club Fair at the school to promote their team. It worked. The team grew and they began creating a schedule of events for the school year. Today, most of their activities are still led by their core group, but they regularly partner with other school organizations, such as Hooch Cares and Beta Club, for large events to reach more students.
Their team discovered the benefits of partnering not only with other student organizations, but also with community members. They have partnered with local driving schools for supplies and resources at events, Drive Smart Georgia at a community event, and even helped National Road Safety Foundation at the Georgia Auto Show in Atlanta.
When asked how they keep members motivated, Mrs. Noland explained that most of their new members are younger high school students – Freshman’s and Sophomore’s – because recruiting new older students proved to be more difficult. Gaining them in lower grade levels allows the members to grow in knowledge and leadership to create a strong team year after year. Mrs. Noland encourages multi-year members to apply for the TDS Teen Advisory Board and participate in specialized groups, such as research and leading activities, for the benefit of the whole team.
The Chattahoochee team has had many successes. They won cash via the TDS Cup and now All-Stars, which helped them travel to Texas for the TDS Safe Driving Summit, helped with outreach material needs, and they scheduled a speaker for the school; a former student received a TDS TAB scholarship; they have been recognized through SADD; and Mrs. Noland even won teacher of the year in 2018.
Mrs. Noland explained that the partnerships and awards have helped recognition of safe teen driving and risk knowledge throughout the community. She told us that Zero Crazy is their favorite activity because they like seeing their progress between pre- and post-observations and getting creative with their messaging. Her favorite has been commit-mints (a mint with promise to buckle up), and Valentine’s with the message “Stop looking for love, just look at the road.”
She also let us know that her time commitment is at most two hours per week when there are team meetings. She looks at her role as helping with logistics, but really allowing the students to plan and engage in the program to develop skills that create great leaders.