CR's Darrell Gravatt is about to receive a special honor.
Darrell Gravatt wants to make sure your kids are safe once they get behind the wheel.
Gravatt’s entire career has been as a school teacher, educating young minds. As chairman of the Caesar Rodney High School’s Driver’s Education Department, he wants to make sure young drivers know what they’re facing on the roads and that they gain all the skills needed to deal with modern driving.
Gravatt’s dedication has led to a Teacher as Hero Award, sponsored by State Farm Insurance and Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum.
Principal Sherry Kijowski nominated Gravatt in the Good Neighbor category in December 2018. According to the museum, the award is presented to a driver’s education teacher who “has initiated or teaches driver safety with a heart by helping teen drivers to understand that driving is a responsibility as well as a privilege.”
Kijowski cited Gravatt’s work in creating a comprehensive driver’s education program by fostering partnerships with others in the community.
Students learn about dealing with distracted and impaired driving through the national SmartDrive program and how to handle encounters with law enforcement while behind the wheel. Local insurance agents brief students about the need for proper coverage and how good grades and an extended safe driving record can result in lower insurance costs.
Students also learn about giving the gift of life through organ donations and get the chance to hear from recipients.
Gravatt is the school’s liaison with Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety for its Choices Matter program, which focuses on distracted driving, and the Click It or Ticket campaign to educate teens on seatbelt use.
Gravatt benefited from the high school’s driving program himself. A Dover native, he learned how to drive while attending CR. Everyone in his family has attended a CR school and nine relatives work in the district.
After graduating with the Class of 1979, Gravatt earned an accounting degree from West Chester University and later a master’s degree in education at Wilmington College.
His career began with teaching social studies in the Woodbridge School District.
“I went into education because I wanted to help young people achieve success in school and throughout the rest of their lives,” he said.
In addition to chairing the Driver’s Education Department, Gravatt is a member of the school’s Development Arts Curriculum Council and coaches boys and girls varsity soccer.
What led you to develop CR’s current driver’s education program?
[It] requires a wide range of skills, knowledge and abilities. Students will be dealing with insurance agents, police officers and the Department of Motor Vehicles periodically through the rest of their lives. So, in driver’s education, we expose them to these people and they share their knowledge and experience to our students. Our students can freely ask questions, which fosters an initial positive experience with these professionals.
What has been the greatest personal reward you’ve received when students complete your course?
I love to see the students’ eyes light up upon receiving their Blue Certificate, which they take to DMV to get their level one permit. I also enjoy helping students achieve their goal of being able to drive without help.
What is the greatest error young student drivers make and how do you combat this?
Students often initially don’t like to be the decision maker. But when they sit in the driver’s seat, for the most part, they make decisions, and I offer them feedback on their decisions. By implementing this style, students tend to get better quickly.