He’s that smiling face that students at Mountain View Elementary School see every day. He’s the first one to greet them in the morning and often the last to say goodbye in the afternoon. However, this man behind the wheel of the big yellow bus used to have a different arena to make kids smile.
Ernie Brock was a member of the famed Harlem Globetrotters. He traveled around the world performing with the iconic team of African American basketball stars that have broken down barriers since 1926.
Some of the students who ride on his bus don’t know that five decades ago their beloved driver dribbled down the basketball court and performed athlete feats that wowed audiences.
Just like he loves to see the joy on the kids’ faces who ride his bus today, he loved looking up into the stands and seeing the joyous roaring crowd at a Harlem Globetrotters game.
“I was able to bring laughter to someone’s life for a few moments,” Brock recalled.
After his years with the Globetrotters, his business career led him to Cobb County where he has lived for almost 30 years. When Brock retired, a fellow retired businessman turned him on to working as a school bus driver, which was appealing because of the benefits but then he realized there was an added bonus.
The former Globetrotter, who also welcomes students from Simpson Middle School and Lassiter High School on his bus, talks to the students about bullying and how important it is to speak up and help their fellow students. He emphasizes safety and encourages the Cobb students to treat everyone how they want to be treated.
“If someone is going to make you feel uncomfortable or [bullied], talk to me and that is not going to be tolerated on the bus. If you see someone else being bullied speak up and let me know,” Brock tells his students.
Today, members of the current Globetrotters travel around to schools teaching students about why bullying is bad and how to stand up to bullies.
Recently, “Torch” George visited Kincaid Elementary School to talk to students about bullying prevention.
“If we can come into these schools and teach these kids the importance of not bullying and if they are being bullied the ways they can cope and who can they can talk to, then we have done our jobs as Globetrotters,” Torch said. “It really makes me happy to use our platform to speak to the kids about [bullying.]”
Torch, who is a native Georgian, doesn’t just give the students tips on ending bullying in their school, she helps show the students how the Globetrotters are still breaking down barriers of equality.
“When I come into the schools, the students are automatically shocked to see a female because a lot of them don’t even realize that there are females on the team,” Torch explained. “When they see me, they are like, ‘Wow! she is a female Globetrotter playing with men on tour!’ So not only am I talking to them about bullying, I’m also being an inspiration to the girls.”
“I usually don’t see a bunch of female athletes so this was something I like to see because female athletes are not usually recognized as much as men,” Jaidyn added.
Thanks to the advice from the visiting Globetrotter, Jaidyn also knows what to do if she sees someone being bullied.
“You should go tell the teacher and if it gets any worse you have to tell the teacher again.”
She doesn’t advise that students step in to stop it themselves,” Jaidyn said.
“I used to be kind of bullied in kindergarten. I decided to tell,” said Jordy.
Now in fifth grade, Jordy is happy and knows he stood up and did the right thing when he was younger.
That’s exactly what the Globetrotters are trying to help other students be able to do.
Torch and her fellow Globetrotter “Moose” Weekes, who visited students at Murdock Elementary School, aimed to provide students with bullying solutions through the T.E.A.M. acronym of talk, empathize, ask, and mobilize.
Although Cobb’s bus driver, Ernie Brock, may not use the same acronym to inspire students on his bus, his goal is still the same. He wants to make his students smile
To learn about some of the anti-bullying resources available through the Cobb County School District visit here.