How would you like to spend your evenings and weekends calmly coaxing restraint from the cocky, confidence from the anxious and common sense out of everyone?
That’s what Evelyn Boyce, a born-and-raised East St. Paul woman, decided to do back in the early ’90s when she started Birds Hill Driving School.
It’s been over 20 years but Evelyn can still remember the fear of having to re-do her beginner’s exam and road test in order to earn her instructor’s permit. Of course she had to pass, but she also had to pass with 50% fewer errors than a regular Class 5 driver and if she failed either test, she would lose her license to boot!
On the day of her written examination, Evelyn sat down at the little desk, pulled out her pen and stored her purse under her seat. Her trembling fingers reached for the exam papers. She read the first question, and her mind went blank.
"What is the colour sequence of traffic lights?"
With everything on the line, she tried desperately to remember what a traffic light is and why it is coloured. She still recalls that bundle of nerves and moment of panic — and it helps her to empathize with her students.
Since passing those tests with flying colours, Evelyn has been a driver’s education instructor and co-ordinator at Miles Macdonell and River East Collegiates as well as keeping up with private lessons. Advertising comes from word of mouth, bringing students and the stories that go with each of them.
From the 70-year-old woman who said Evelyn better be a good teacher because she’d already gone out and bought a car, to the wide-eyed moment when a student stopped the car on a boulevard inches from a tree, to the teenager wanting to know if you really have to stop at a stop sign, Evelyn has a million stories to tell and years of experience to impart.
So what is her best advice for young people wanting to drive?
Get some instruction. All drivers benefit from a well-trained novice and driver’s education is an inexpensive yet invaluable tool.
I just think it’s cool she has a brake pedal on the passenger side of her car.
Cher Hebert is a community correspondent for East St. Paul. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org