Estella Mims Pyfrom And Her Brilliant Bus For Underprivileged Kids
Underprivileged kids take charge of their destiny on a magical mobile learning lab.
Magic School Bus
In today’s digital age, information is everywhere. This has made for a more informed general public, but some poor and rural locations have fallen behind due to a lack of resources. That’s why Estella Pyfrom, an 82-year-old activist and educator from Quincy, Florida, is giving those who need it an “education on wheels.”
Her ‘magic school bus’ established a movement to make education accessible to all. The Brilliant Bus is a non-profit, designed to help both underprivileged children and adults access education, modern technology, and educational resources no matter where they live. The project is helping to eliminate the digital divide in communities and has been featured during a Microsoft Super Bowl commercial, in O, The Oprah Magazine, and was a recipient of Toyota’s Standing O-vation award. Pyfrom was also named a CNN Top 10 Hero. You can watch her hero story here…
When most people retire, they usually spend their savings on traveling, moving to a different country, or satisfying their own needs for the rest of their lives. Pyfrom is quite different from others as she chose to spend her life’s savings on a project as selfless as the Brilliant Bus. However, she herself does not consider herself to be selfless. She explains that in a way, she created the bus for herself. By establishing her learning bus, she realized the power within herself, and she hopes that others will be inspired and educated through her endeavors.
“I love seeing people push their boundaries and overcome obstacles,” she says. “By bringing the bus to the people who need it the most, I really feel that I am making my students more equipped for the real world.”The Brilliant Bus is equipped with a computer lab which many of Pyfrom’s students would not have access to outside the bus. In most cases, she provides them with the only opportunity to learn about technologies and use them in everyday life. Through interactive lessons on the bus, students of all ages learn how to find and access unlimited information online, as well as coding, entrepreneurship, and other digital skills. This, in turn, improves the quality of life for both children and adults.
Established in 2013, the Brilliant Bus was first called Project Aspiration. The goal was to give hope to people outside of their classrooms, which may be understaffed and underfunded. The mobile classroom allows Pyfrom to teach students around the world regardless of their location. This is why she calls it “education without borders.” The Brilliant Bus is there where the communities need it most.
A Life of Dedicated Service
Pyfrom views each child’s success as her own and sees her vehicle as opening new doors. “Every time I see a student, whether they are a child or an adult, succeed in the task at hand, I see hope, motivation, and a new life which was previously inaccessible in their minds.” From her experience as a lifelong educator with more than 50 years of teaching and guiding students, Pyfrom views the bus as an extension of her calling.
Pyfrom’s career started when she became a K-12 classroom teacher. After that, she worked for 31 years as a guidance counselor. She spent a few years as a principal for summer schools and as an area resource teacher within the Palm Beach County School District. She’s also worked in low-income communities, such as Belle Glade, Florida, where she was an auxiliary coach for 28 years at Glades Central High School.In her career, she taught students, trained employees, implemented and supervised educational programs. She’s also worked with adults, spending 26 years as an adult educator. As an activist and advocate for children’s rights, Pyfrom spent almost 30 years of her life protecting those who are mentally or physically challenged by providing long-term care. Having an underprivileged background herself, she understands the needs of the children in these situations.
She is dedicated to helping families improve the quality of their lives when the children have been abused and neglected. At times, she’s let the children stay at her home and took care of them as her own, expenses included. Through empowering children as well as their parents, Pyfrom has managed to strengthen communities, protect basic rights of children, and increase their feelings of security and self-confidence.
She first learned to drive a bus in her early years while helping her father, a migrant worker and camp leader, transport workers during the summer months. Her parents were considered migrant pioneers at the time and their industrious drive became the foundation of her own life. The words of her father continue to ring true with her own family today, “Dream big. If you want something, keep working and eventually you’ll achieve it.”Despite all her professional successes, Pyfrom remains humble, as evidenced in her first book, The Legacy of a Humble Black Woman. She considers the Brilliant Bus to be her second greatest achievement. She considers her first success raising her four children. She is now the proud mother of 14 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren! All four of her children have shared her passion for education, and they’ve completed their higher education. “As a mother and an educator, I couldn’t be more proud.” Learn more about Pyfrom and her Brilliant Bus at http://estellasbrilliantbus.org/.