New school gives Quincy students another path to getting driver's license

Under the direction of instructor Kerry Anders, left, driver's education student Meg Stadler, 15, of Quincy, backs out of a parking space near Hampshire Street, Quincy, while learning the behind the wheel portion of driving. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Jul. 21, 2014 10:58 am Updated: Aug. 4, 2014 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Kerry Anders could have found the nearest golf course, slapped the golf ball around a little bit and enjoyed his time off in retirement.

Instead the longtime driver's education teacher at Quincy High School has decided to continue doing the same type of work he did for more than 25 years.

Anders, who taught and coached in the Quincy Public Schools system for 37 years before retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year, recently opened an office for the Quincy Driving School inside the Two Rivers Regional Council building, 1125 Hampshire. He has his own car for the school and a waiting list of students who want to take classroom and on-the-road courses.

"I've always had a dream about doing this," Anders said. "There is a need for this. I'm going to roll the dice and see what happens."

Quincy Driving School is the only locally owned private driving school in Quincy. Teens seeking to get their driver's licenses in Quincy previously had just two options when it came to completing all coursework. The most popular option was to take a driver's education course through Quincy High School. Students also could take classes through the Champaign-based J.R.'s Driving School, which operates through John Wood Community College.

As the head of the QHS driver's education department for 10 years, Anders saw how difficult it was for the school to keep up with the rules and regulations that the state mandates from young drivers before licensing them. It led to a backlog of students going through the program, some of whom did not get their license by the time they turned 16.

Anders hopes to provide another outlet for that backlog of students.

"I'm there for the student who could not fit (driver's education) into their regular schedule at the high school," he said. "It's not a right to have your license when you turn 16, but it's something people want. I can be there to fill the void."

He said he has the flexibility to help drivers get their licenses quickly, too. Students who go through a traditional school-based program take a classroom portion that lasts an entire quarter of a school year. Anders said his students can take the classroom portion of the class in as little as four weeks.

Drivers must practice driving for a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, supervised by a parent or guardian, during a nine-month period when they have a learner's permit.

Anders is officially licensed through the Illinois secretary of state's office. He offers 30 hours of classroom instruction as well as behind-the-wheel training. The cost is $100 for the classroom phase and $425 for the behind-the-wheel portion.