Driver’s education class largest ever in county

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jamie Stewert prepares to drive, while Brady Page gets in the backseat to wait his turn at the wheel. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Allowing one’s child to get behind the wheel of an automobile can be a scary experience, but thanks to driver’s education classes in Covington County, it could be a safer one.

Some 101 students participated in this summer’s driver’s education classes within the Covington County School system.

“It’s possibly the largest class we’ve ever had,” said instructor Karen McGlaun. “We’re in a boom, enrollment wise. So therefore, our class sizes are bigger.”

McGlaun said the majority of freshmen students take driver’s education, which offers a discount on insurance rates and a half credit toward their diploma, in addition to safe driving strategies.

For one week, all 101 students took the book portion, which included all the topics in the state’s driver’s manual.

Now the students have divided up into threes and are driving.

McGlaun, Joea McNeill and Tim Grimes are working with the students on their driving portion, and each has about 34 students.

“We focus on defensive driving, being safe and getting behind the wheel and being able to live,” McGlaun said. “And Massey Automotive was nice enough to let us borrow three cars.”

Students are required to have six hours of car time, she said.

“That’s a total of two sessions for three hours each,” McGlaun said. “During that time they get to practice, and I give them the driver’s test the second time.”

Students said they learned things they didn’t know about driving before the class.

“I learned to pay more attention to the road signs,” said Brady Page, a student at Straughn High School.

Jamie Stewert said he learned to do a three-point turn, and also learned a very important message.

“I also learned the importance of not drinking and driving,” he said.

McGlaun said all three instructors have what’s called a third party endorsement, which means they are certified to give the Alabama driver’s test.

“We are very strict on passing the test,” she said. “I’m probably more strict on them than my regular classes.”

Once the student passes the test, the instructor will send the student’s name into the state and they receive a yellow card, which allows them to get their driver’s license.

McGlaun said she is thankful that local parents giver her the opportunity to teach their children in a car.

“They put a little bit of trust in me,” she said.