MAHWAH, N.J. – When Mike and Michelle Branagh started their driving school back in 2008, they had one car and three employees.
“Literally, it was me and Michelle and we hired a friend that we knew real well,” said Mike, who is also a special education teacher, head basketball coach and freshman football coach at Mahwah High School.
Nine years later, Home Run Driving School has 11 cars and about 20 employees. And many of their instructors are area school teachers and coaches, just like the Branaghs themselves.
Michelle taught special education in Ramsey, before having children and running the driving school full time.
“Teachers are going to be the best at working with students, and being able to communicate with parents,” Michelle said.
“Any instructor that we have on our staff, I would feel 100 percent comfortable putting my own child in the car with,” Michelle said.
The driving instructors include teachers and coaches from area school districts such as Mahwah, Ramsey, Fair Lawn, Dumont, Fort Lee and Indian Hills.
“We try to have people that would match up with any type of student. There might be a student that is more into theater, so we might have an instructor that is musical, just so they can have a common place to start when they get into car,” Michelle said.
To put parents at ease, the Branaghs also include bios of their instructors on their company website and speak to parents over the phone to answer any questions they may have.
The attention they pay to teens and their parents is paying off.
During their first year in business, they taught about 72 kids how to drive. Now, they are teaching over 1,000 kids a year.
“The kids are usually amazed by an hour into the lesson, how they’ve gone down to Old Tappan or driven down Route 17,” Mike said. “It is just amazing how with confidence what they are capable of doing.”
Many students come from surrounding high schools, such as Mahwah, Ramsey, Northern Highlands, and Indian Hills, as well as Don Bosco and Immaculate Heart Academy, they said.
To learn more about Home Run Driving School, CLICK HERE .