About the Gus Bus

the Gus Bus truck parked outside with a rainbow in the background
Learning Happens at Every Stop

The Gus Bus brings free academic enrichment to children where they live throughout Harrisonburg. We take our mobile-classroom vehicles to neighborhoods where families might have financial and/or transportation barriers to programs like ours – those that inspire creativity, promote social-emotional growth, and improve educational achievement.

The Gus Bus team helps children do better in school, inspires joy in learning, and cultivates racially and culturally inclusive education through the following programs:

The History of the Gus Bus

How We Began

A Community Problem

A Community Solution

More Students Get Involved

More Programs Launch

What We Do Today

Neighborhood Bus Stops

After-school Programs

In-Home Tutoring

Summer Programs

The Impact of the Gus Bus

Promoting a Love for Learning

The Gus Bus forms an atmosphere of fun and friendship at our Neighborhood Stops, Afterschool Programs, and In-Home Tutoring to encourage students to fall in love with learning. For many students, the Gus Bus offers an opportunity to engage with academic skills like reading, writing, and math in a low-stakes environment. There are no “grades” at Gus Bus, and no wrong answers, so students are able to explore subjects and practice skills without fear to develop their natural curiosity and wonder.

PHOTO: Partnering with BR Area Food Bank

Our summer day camps are a way for our students to continue having fun
learning even when school is out!

Academic Goals for our Students

The Gus Bus currently serves five elementary schools in Harrisonburg City School District. We aim to address specific goals determined in partnership with school principals in order to best serve and support our students’ distinct academic needs. Some of these identified needs include strengthening literacy skills and developing creativity. Our instructors design their lessons to help address these concepts using engaging picture books and interactive activities.

One of our specific goals for all of our students is for them to pass Virginia’s SOL exams. In Harrisonburg, less than 50% of elementary students pass the Reading and Math SOLs, and for ELL students, less than 25% and 30% receive a passing score on the Reading SOL and Math SOL, respectively. For students enrolled in Gus Bus on our Mobile Classroom Vehicles, at our After-School Programs, or by receiving In-Home Tutoring, we hope that they will demonstrate proficiency on the Reading and Math SOLs after attending our program regularly throughout the school year.

Family Impact

The Gus Bus also aims to support the families of the students involved in our programs. Through a partnership with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the Gus Bus brings shelf-stable foods and fresh produce to our Neighborhood Stops on a regular basis. Despite limitations due to the pandemic, during the 2020-2021 School Year, the Gus Bus helped distribute over 700 shelf-stable food bags and over 250 boxes of fresh produce to families. Also during COVID-19 related school closures, the Gus Bus delivered over 300 books and nearly 600 learning kits for families to read or complete at home with support of Gus Bus instructors leading over GoogleMeet.

In partnership with Skyline Literacy, the Gus Bus offers free adult literacy class to the family members of our students. In Fall 2021, the Gus Bus helped offer a Conversational English class on their Mobile Classroom Vehicle – visiting neighborhoods and helping adults learning, just like we do for our elementary students.

The Gus Bus also hosts Family Engagement Nights in October, March, and April in collaboration with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and community partners like JMU College of Education and The Morrison Bruce Center to encourage families to learn, read, and play as well as help parents or guardians learn more about how to help their children be successful by practicing skills at home together.

Gus Bus in the Community

“I just wanted to say thank you for everything The Gus Bus has done for my family. Both of my sons’ reading skills & math skills have gotten much better just from attending the program . They’re always excited after The Gus Bus and want to talk about how much fun and what a wonderful time they had. I just wanted to say thank you so much for having a program like this!
- Juliana Irizarry, parent of two Gus Bus students

“I like Mrs. Lindsey and reading books and playing games.”
– Miguel, Gus Bus student

PHOTO: Miss Lindsey and Angie reading the book Angie created during the Gus Bus summer program!

Gus Bus students are always excited to come back to our programs after breaks!

PHOTO: Two of our students enjoying their time on the Gus Bus

One of our many Family Engagement Nights, where families can get free produce and students can participate in fun lessons.

“The first thing Nick and Judah would do when we got home on Thursday, no matter how late or early, they would just go and devour the books [from the Gus Bus]. I would be scrambling to make dinner, and turn around and they were just calmly reading their books.”
– Kasey Nekotwitz, parent of two Gus Bus students