Drivers ed gains A Better Choice
by Matt Shinall
Apr 14, 2012 | 1789 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gayle Bailey-Blake reviews a DVD she shows to students in her DUI classes at A Better Choice Driving School.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Gayle Bailey-Blake reviews a DVD she shows to students in her DUI classes at A Better Choice Driving School. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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After 30 years of teaching, Gayle Bailey-Blake returned to her passion for education by opening A Better Choice Driving School.

She's no longer at the head of a traditional classroom but her passion remains for helping students make better, more informed decisions.

"Knowledge is power and when you learn what you're doing and why you're doing it, you can decide to make a change," Bailey-Blake said. "I have seen people leave my class that tell me, 'Gayle, I just can't believe the information that I learned.'

"People have changed their lives and they write me these heartfelt notes when they leave."

Classes available at A Better Choice include those to satisfy driving under the influence conviction requirements and defensive driving courses. Most of Bailey-Blake's customer base come for the DUI classes and while many just attend to fulfill the requirements, she hopes they take away more than just a certificate.

"It can be a life changing program for the students if they go for it and it is an amazing program," Bailey-Blake said. "It talks about how you can live a life of low-risk choices and what you risk when you do high-risk drinking and drug use, for example. We talk about all the things you could put in jeopardy."

DUI classes consist of 20 hours worth of course work following the Prime for Life curriculum, a video-based lesson completed in conjunction with workbooks and stand-alone activities.

"We do activities in class, you write a letter to someone who may be going through a time where they could have a problem with alcohol and drugs -- a younger sibling maybe," she said, describing how students learn about cause and effect.

"Everybody gets a book, a Prime for Life workbook, that we work through in the class and when they leave I say, 'This book is your friend. I'm not there but your book is there. Look back and look at the letter you wrote. Go back and look at the things you value. Go back and look at the cost of your arrest,' which we figure out. 'Keep all this in your mind and it will help you to make a better choice.'"

After a brief retirement, Bailey-Blake found a way to continue teaching through DUI courses at another establishment before seeing an opportunity and opening her own business. From the experience of teaching elsewhere, she saw areas that needed improvement, including the teaching environment and how students were treated.

Because Bailey-Blake saw other driving schools where courses were taught in dark rooms and students were made to feel like criminals, she implemented changes in the construction of her business model. With a bright classroom and a positive attitude, Bailey-Blake is trying to effect change within her students. To do that, she tries to show how much she cares. In the classroom is a mini library, a toy exchange for students with children and because she saw students going hungry during all-day sessions at other driving schools, Bailey-Blake provides a pizza dinner for long classes.

A Better Choice Driving School just opened in January but Bailey-Blake has plans for growth hoping to add a secretary and an additional instructor. A Better Choice, located at 1223 Joe Frank Harris Parkway, is open 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and by appointment when needed. For more information, call 770-334-3008 or email abetterchoicedrives@comcast.net.