Driver’s Ed is back at WNC

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Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

One of the most difficult times parents face is preparing for their children learning to drive. Unfortunately, many teen drivers lack the experience, awareness and education to safely drive the family vehicle.

So, who better than the parent of a new teen driver to prepare teens for this critical step in their young lives?

That parent is Suzanne Pipho, an educator and experienced WNC employee. She will lead WNC’s resumption of a driver’s education course through its Continuing Education Program.

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“I have two teenage boys,” Suzanne said. “I find that if I ask them questions about an important topic, rather than lecture them with the information, they are more engaged and they also realize that they don’t have all of the answers. Rather than saying, ‘You should always wear your seatbelt!’, I will ask them, ‘Why is it important to always wear your seatbelt? Can you give me 5 or more reasons?’”

The class is offered during winter break on Dec. 27-31 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily with a half-hour lunch break. The cost is $50.

“Our program is meant to be engaging for students, so they do more than hear the information — they actually learn it!” said WNC Continuing Education Coordinator Lauren Slemenda. “Students will interact with each other and the instructor by playing games designed to reinforce lessons, and parents will receive daily summaries of what their student learned that day so that they can help emphasize the information at home and during behind-the-wheel practice.”

Having taught her oldest son to drive, Suzanne is dedicated to teaching other children driver’s education in a classroom setting. She understands the simultaneous fear and responsibility that parents face when they are tasked with teaching their teenager how to drive. She encourages parents and guardians to be an active participant in this course by reviewing the daily handouts with the student. She uses creative and engaging teaching methods to prepare each student to become a safe driver.

Suzanne plans to have students compete handouts and quizzes, interact in small group activities, simulate driving situations in role-playing activities and complete an obstacle course to simulate different driving situations and conditions.

“I plan to engage the students by making the lessons fast-paced and challenging while asking them lots and lots of questions,” Suzanne said. “I will use several of these teaching techniques I used when I worked as an instructor at ITT Technical Institute.”

Suzanne’s passion for the topic also comes from a personal place: She experienced the loss of an older sister, Larissa, to a car crash when she was 3. She wants to help families avoid this awful experience.

Instruction will include guest speakers from the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, DMV and Nevada Department of Transportation who will provide valuable insight into driving safely. The class will conclude with the awarding of completion certificates and a “bonus” session providing parents with tips for behind-the-wheel practice. This course meets NAC 389.568 requirements for 30 hours of classroom driver education training for students under the age of 18.

Learn more about Suzanne’s passion for teaching children to drive by accessing her TEDx Carson City presentation, “A Unique Approach to Driver’s Education, at https://www.tedxcarsoncity.com/suzanne-pipho.

“Overall, my goal is to make this driver’s education class as informative and engaging as possible,” she said. “I will prepare the students as much as I can with the 30 hours I have to work with them. I am also including a bonus class offered after the last class for both the student driver and their parents/guardians. The idea with this bonus class is to offer tips, hints and resources for the behind-the-wheel driving lessons and practice.”

Looking for a driver’s education course that does more than just check the box? Sign up your child today. For more information and to register your child, go to wnc.edu/driver-education, or phone 775-445-4210.

Additional classes will be offered after the new year.

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