I-Team: Driving Teacher’s Behavior Going Too Far?

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

WORCESTER (CBS) – “Well you could’ve waited until I had my teeth in.”

That was the greeting from Rebecca Sullivan when the I-Team showed up to talk with her about some questionable behavior at her Worcester driving school.

It seems she’s always looking for a laugh.

“I mean man, I don’t do window dressing, sorry,” Sullivan said.

WBZ-TV I-Team’s Kathy Curran reports

She’s the owner of Becky’s Driving School in Worcester, where teens are supposed to learn the rules of the road.

There’s instruction in the classroom and behind the wheel, but some say the learning is lacking and that Becky Sullivan’s behavior in the classroom goes too far.

One student said, “I wouldn’t go there if you want to get a real driver’s education. It’s more sex ed or AA, I guess.”

The student and parent, who don’t want to be identified, say Sullivan talks about her sex life, booze, and drugs, and it’s all laced with plenty of profanity.

The student’s father said, “We were appalled about the open and frank, graphic discussions about drinking, driving, sex, and the cavalier attitude she has toward these things.”

Students say the following is a quote from Becky during class, “Believe me, I was never really educated in sex before I was doing it. Oh I’m supposed to move? I thought I was just supposed to ((expletive)) do what you gotta do.”

It’s a statement Sullivan denies ever making.

Registrar Rachel Kaprielian says driver’s ed is no place to joke around.

She adds, “That is not what the purpose of driver’s ed class is and it’s totally inappropriate.”

The student who spoke with us also said, “She mostly talks about her personal life, how she used to do drugs and how she’ll kill us if we hurt her grandchildren. She talked about how she used to drink a lot, her kids were a mistake, and how she really didn’t want them. Not much about driving.”

It appears many kids coming through this driving school haven’t learned enough to get behind the wheel.

According to the state, the average failure rate for driving schools is about 20-percent.

Becky’s failure rate is much higher in the past six months. In March, almost 52-percent of her students didn’t pass the test.

There’s also concern about a comment she made on seat belts.

“I said I did not agree with the Mass. seat belt law. Because you can marry someone of the same sex, you can kill an unborn child and then they tell you, you have to wear a seat belt. I was trying to bring out the contradiction in that,” Sullivan said.

“You can put this anywhere you want because the people in my class know who I am, know why I do what I do, and you know what, I can’t fill up a class quick enough. Becky wants them alive, Becky cares they drive alive.”  

Saving lives with safe driving skills is the ultimate goal at the Central Mass. Safety Council.

From the classroom to the streets, they say taking the job seriously is key to teaching so teens learn the basic traffic laws skills needed on the road.

Executive Director Tim Cooney said, “We train them to pass the test but we also train them to be safe drivers, we feel it’s vital for youngsters to get good, solid foundation.”

Becky says she offers quality driver’s ed at an affordable price of $550.

The family we spoke with has filed a complaint with the state about Becky’s behavior. A spokesperson for the registry tells us they’re investigating.

Becky Sullivan sent an email to her students once she found out about our story.  And in response, we received several emails.

Many of her students say they enjoyed their experience, they like Becky’s unconventional way of teaching, and it helps them learn what they need to about driving.

  • John

    WBZ: Please put the video of this lady on your website so everyone can see her face and steer clear of her driving school.

    This is just another reason why driving should be taught in MA high schools and not by private companies.

    • Chrissyd

      OHHHH please!!!! they can’t teach kids how to balance a checkbook never mind pass a driving test!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Patryck B.

      My names is Patryck B and quite frankly i am discusted with the way you have portrayed this auto school. I am a former student of Becky’s auto school and i feel that her teachings are individualistic, she has no fear in commenting on what issues teens now-a-days face behind the wheel that parents continue to disregard. Pier-pressure, drugs, cell Phones, not putting on safety belts, its all part of “being cool”. Becky is a role model to me and i know that she will speak out and put her foot down to keep teens like myself safe behind the wheel. I cannot say enough to express my gratitude to the work she puts in to informing the youth of bad decision making. I recommend Becky’s Auto School, but only to those who wish to learn the FULL responsibility a person has when they receive there license. And to john of WBZ although i am nothing more then a former student to Becky, it gave me comfort when she told me and my class to call her before ever getting in a vehicle with an inadequate driver. Knowing that she went out side of the classroom to keep me safe.

      • grafton hill man

        Recently I was driving on Interstate I 290 when I saw a Becky’s vehicle race by me heading to the Route 122 cutoff. When they came upon the stop sign (2 people were in the car) they took a right turn without a full stop and then proceeded to go through another stop sign. I called to report this to the school but GOT NO REPLY. Should have called the Registry.

  • emom

    her students failure rate is over 53% WOW, thats crazy,,,,, I would think she would strive to a higher rate , but I fear she isnt teaching the students much ,, except about her personal beliefs, and the fact she walks around with a cigarett and a can of sugery coke,,, maybe she doesnt believe in seatbelts because well,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Nope not saying ,,, a video is worth a few words on that………. wait didnt we just have a post about children and aaahhhhhhhh .yeah we did…………. go figure

    • boob

      emonnnnnnnnnn your wack…what kind of name is that

  • Carling

    Just saw this story thought I would see what the hub was on the blog, not much yet. Not sure I agree with highschools teaching driving skills. Ma cant afford to keep schools open or to teach our children math and english to rule in our highschools,I wouldnt want them teaching our students to drive. Drivers are bad enough out there. During this class it sounds like they are getting time behind the wheel, and being taught to drive in a class setting. I imagine based on the teenagers these days they would be rather difficult to teach, maybe we need to hold those accountable who failed the test, what are they like? Are they vigilant with practice and studying, or do they look to blame others for their failure? What goes on further than that is she said he said. The news station received several emails stating they had learned alot behind the wheel etc. In the end she sounded truly sincere that she wants these kids to be safe. We will have to see if this unfolds any further.

  • amy

    This is the most one sided news story I have ever read and seen. WBZ I expected a little more! Data is very miss leading (pulling ONE months stats, not JUST classroom students- forgot to mention that), only one or two students interviewed. She’s been teaching drivers Ed for years, and this is all you gathered. Very poor job.

    • bwsmith

      I fi9nd it interesting that they brought in CMSC driving school for comparison. That school had 2 rather bad accidents over the winter. Becky had none. CMSC cars are in questionable condition and my experience with them was very poor. Becky’s provided a much better education.

    • Chrissyd

      This story is disgusting and a reprehensible report on the medias attempt to report a story without hearing both sides and on only 1 family’s complaint who don’t even have the balls to show their face!!! My 2 daughters, nieces and nephews, and many friends children have gone to Becky’s, passed the first time and LOVED her!!!! She is like family to my kids!! This is ridiculous!! Did these parents not attend the parent class before their kids started class with Becky, where she told you what would be discussed and what to expect???? They could have left then……I am appalled!! We LOVE Becky!!

    • Rhonda Bachrach

      Nice comment Amy. I would have to agree. I see “much ado about nothing” considering that everything that I have been told from my daughter who recently graduated from Becky’s that she is a first-rate teacher.

      • Patti

        I have to agree with both of you. I was a student at Becky’s two years ago. I will admit that yes, she did talk about what was mentioned in the article. But it’s not like she DIDN’T teach us. She did teach the proper material and we took the tests, which were difficult. I passed with an A and passed the driving test, first try. Haven’t gotten into any accidents or trouble. She did teach us well. I admit I wish she focused less on her personal stories. But some of her personal stories gave us even more reason NOT to do what is illegal or life threatening. The personal aspect adds a type of adhesive that sticks with you and enforces the idea that no, it’s NOT right to do this or that.

        And Amy, I noticed that as well. Comparing a months worth of statistics and comparing them to the average of all students is not right. Nor is it acceptable data.

        As a side note, please don’t turn into FOX, WBZ. Don’t become biased and unfair as this story seems to be.

    • grafton hill man

      Hey Amy, Get A LIFE………..look at the stats!!!!! She’s a low life and hope her license to operate that school is REVOKED.

      • I hate grafton hill

        Your a loser, you have nothing to do with the school, you need a life. She offers fun education for the cheapest around. You probably sit home on the couch and eat popcorn and drink beer. GET A JOB YOU SMELLY TROLL!!!! I hope you feel good about trashing on someone who is an all around better person than you.

  • Rhonda Bachrach

    My husband and I sent our daughter to Becky’s recently. We are very professional people, i.e. an attorney and paralegal. Although somewhat unconventional, Becky worked hard at providing the teens in her class a first rate driver’s education. The so-called sex-ed statements were discussed in a context that the kids should not engage in such activity, especially while driving, because they may die as a result. I have found Becky’s to be successful in engaging teens in driver’s education and, more importantly, teaching them the rules of the road for save driving.

    • Chrissyd

      It is YOUR responsibility to take them driving in fat it is a requirement that they have so many hours driving with a parent… you obviously are one of those parents who expect everyone else to do your job…..

    • worcester driver

      That’s why 53% FAILED…………..Wake up. As a so called member of the legal profession, you and your husband should be more aware of your daughter’s surroundings. Talking sex in driving school know matter what the context is over the line. STUPID

      • worcester driver

        Rhonda, Sorrie my mistake………..52% failed………….and your still STUPID……….wouldn’t want any legal advise from you……….YOUR .Guilty………

  • Barry Bachrach

    My daughter recently attended. The I Team’s report is off base and i agree with Amy it is one sided, but worse than that it lacks facts, it makes unsupported accusations, and is a scurrilous unsubstantiated attack. how can anyone take seriously an article that has two anonymous sources. Anonymous stories are the breeding ground of defamation. The I team should be ashamed of itself. Yet, there appear to be people who will accept anything the media prints no matter how irresponsible. I hope people critically look at this attack, question who called for it, and see it for what it is.

  • ryan

    this is a very unfair story about becky. i went there a couple years ago and i have a flawless driving record and she taught me alot in an unconventional way. it was relaxing cause she stopped me from driving scared and loosened up my personallty. i can see how some people might find her offensive cause she does have a bad mouth but she even says the first day of class if you dont like her or how she talks you can glady leave and get your money back. no excuses if you dont like her leave but she does teach well and tries to help students. but just like in any school if you dont pay attention and dont want to be helped you will fail…get over it

  • Melissa

    I personally myself had Becky 10 years ago when she was with another company and because of her I learned how to drive. My parents were very nervous about me driving so I did not get much experience driving before signing up for driving school. Becky taught me to relax while driving, pay attention to yourself and others around you. Just because a teacher is not stuffy and all business DOES NOT mean you will not learn anything. Becky taught me to drive – It was not my family nor my friends. I owe being able to have the privilege to drive to Becky. Thank you Becky!!

  • No teeth & a smoke.

    It appears that some of Becky’s satisfied customers are backing her up but how do you explain a 52% failure rate for her students? Judging by some of the people I see driving cars, there should be a 70% failure rate.

    • bwsmith

      You need to take into consideration that adults from other countries take their road test at Becky’s. Many of these adults don’t own cars so don’t practice. They expect to drive 2 or 3 times and then get their license. What is the actual failure rate For Becky’s driver’s ed / classroom students? Closer to 10 – 15%

  • Carling

    Thanks for leading with inside eyes,Ry. Its good to hear the other side. We didnt know that information. ap

  • cjs

    I sent both of kids to Becky’s. Failure rate – 100%. After my son, the second to go there, failed I spent hours working with him. Hours. He didn’t even know to pull over when an emergency vehicle approached. My daughter failed because she didn’t know to yield entering a rotary. Never taught these things. How can that be? My son told me recently he learned more from me than he ever did on her “rides”. I would not at all recommend her.

    • Jorje

      Do your children have a learning disability? It is the instructor’s job to teach, your children’s job to learn. I love how parents blame their “perfect child’s” failure on the teacher. It’s always the teacher right? No, your kids are just not bright. Deal with it…

      Becky was great, the Rex Ryan of Drivers Ed, loved her!

    • response

      I’m sorry, but isn’t this your responsibility to teach your children to PULL OVER WHEN AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE IS APPROACHING?
      I don’t understand? He must see you do it? Yielding entering into a rotary? (or yielding to any oncoming traffic)
      As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your children how to drive. Drivers Education is a fill in, but if you had been doing your job as a parent, you wouldn’t need someone else to tell your children the rules of the road. Most of them should be known prior to even going to Drivers Education.

      • Reply

        Wow I thought when you pay a driving school to teach your child they teach them how to drive and the rules of the road. All that you are saying is a parents job, I was taught by my instructor So tell me what do you pay a driving school for? And attacking someone as a parent is not ok, and over her comment about her experince there.It her experince not everyones and she is intitled to that.

      • kay

        If children were supposed to know the rules of the road before going to driver’s ed, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of having driver’s ed? Driving instructor’s should be reinforcing and expanding on what students already know. I’m sure that both of cjs’s children learned a lot from him or her. It’s not their fault that the driver’s ed teacher was unable to continue what they learned from a parent. I’m sure your parents did a great job teaching YOU how to drive. Maybe you’re one of Becky’s former students that couldn’t pass the driving test?

  • Jamie

    Well then obviously they did not take their own education seriously. I finished my lessons just a few months ago, I know how to do all of that and more. Her unconventional teaching methods show who can and can not be mature enough to handle driving responsibly. Plus these people complaining about not knowing how to do things. She states it herself in class by the end of your road lessons call her and she will take you out personally on a lesson and show you how to do it. You people are just pathetic why don’t you talk to some actual students and this garbage, I hope your proud of yourself. This news station has officially lost my respect and support.

  • Teacher

    To all your irate former students… I’m happy you are supporting your former teacher. However, the biggest issue that jumps out of that article is that a DRIVING instructor is teaching SEX ED, POLITICS, SWEARS, and HEALTH. Sure she may be teaching driving, and may even be teaching it well, but I doubt in her paper work it says that she is going to teach all of that too.

    I think it is every parent’s responsibilty and right to know what garbage someone is teaching. Becky is not a licensed doctor, pyschatrist or any other professional other than a driving instructor. Therefore, her personal advice said while teaching is not appropriate. This is for the same reason public school teachers can’t talk about their own political views. Kids are impressionable and take what adults say as fact and they can mimic them. So, irregardless to whether her opinions have merit, she is doing something she shouldn’t. If she wants to do that she needs to find another position elsewhere.

    Lastly, how dare you viewers attack the anonymous in this case. If Becky denied any of what these people claimed then I’d agree with you. However, she isn’t. Therefore this defending is stupid. You either agree with her methods or you don’t, but clearly the facts are still the facts.

    • dan


    • dan

      irregardless is not in the dictionary.it does not exist

      • mummerz

        Irregardless is an informal term commonly used in place of regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. Most dictionaries list it as “nonstandard” or “incorrect” but it does exist.

  • Mary

    So glad someone has finally made a story about this women. I sent my daught there and she had to deal with all of this sex, drugs and drinking talk, not to mention driving in a car with someone who has no reguard to others health. Smoking in the car with my child who has never been around a smoker in closed quarters. Came home everytime smelling of smoke. Her other instructors are just as bad smoking, swearing, texting, talking on their cell phones. Having small children in car, I do believe they are beckys grandkids smoking and swearing with them im the car. She is a very loud and rude person who cares only for her self. Selling cigarette to minor children what will it take to stop this women from endangering or childrens health and lives. I hope more people are willig to come forward and stop this circus show. What a mistake it was to send my child there. I will be send my son somewhere else and I hope many others do the same

  • http://wrcstr.com/2011/today-in-overblown-one-sided-journalism Today in overblown, one-sided journalism | Worcester

    […] Becky’s Driving School is reportedly a den of iniquity, or – perhaps more likely – a place you can attend if you want a really poor chance of passing your driver’s ed exam.  (Becky’s has a 52% failure rate versus the state average of 20%.) […]

  • 50-50

    these comments are like her stats on passing the driver’s ed course, half of you thought she was a great instructor and the other half thought she wasn’t. We are at a stand still. If she is doing these things ie smoking while teaching the kids to drive swearing and the inappropriate discussions they need to stop. On the other side if some people feel she is doing her job and doing it well let her continue. I just need more proof than just 1 month’s data.

  • Jim S

    I am a Graduate of Becky from around 2003. She teaches about whats real in Worcester and how to navigate a car in such a climate. Part of that is dialogue with the kids about sex, drugs and drunk driving. In Worcester, kids around the age of 16 are all engaged in those activities and Becky strives to educate about the dangers of mixing these behaviors with a car. To the parents on here complaining about this and the smoke and such,,, thats real life around this town and your kids probably took alot from it since they been sheltered from real life. Bottom line is this… if you want your kid to be prepared to putts around small town Holden and be home before the street lights come on then send them somewhere else. If you want your kid to be prepared for driving around Worcester with there friends like they are going to anyway, Becky will teach them some important lessons that will stick with them forever. When your son/daughter is faced with choice to ride with drunk friends or not,, you will be glad they learned from Becky. A real world driving school instructor!

    • Kristin C.

      Also a graduate from Becky (with a flawless driving record as well), i agree 100%.

  • Me

    That cigarette and smug face just about tell it all. Shame on her for providing such a disservice to these kids. Will be extra sure my child steers clear of a white trash driving school like this.

    • Cool name Bro

      Hey Me, i hope u get in a car accident. If you went to becky you wouldn’t.

  • Check it out

    As i watched this again, I believe this was a personal attack by someone, the main focus was on her smoking. I didnt know it was illegal to smoke and be a driving instructor. I felt like this news story was more of a harrassment segment than a news story. It told me nothing more then what the excerpts told me before the story

  • Becky Sullivan

    This is Becky from Becky’s Driving School. I have watched the news and read the comments. At this time I will address one issue and will address the other issues in the near future. The issue I will address is my failure rate for road tests. I do not put people on my road tests unless I believe they will pass. Once they are in the car I have no control over what happens. I can tell people to roll down the window before showing their hand signals, but I can not do it for them.

    The news stated we had a 52% failure rate. However, this was one road test in which we had over 50 students testing. I am not saying that is an excuse but keep in mind this is not a normal occurrence. What should be asked is what was done for those students who did fail. They were all given as many free lessons needed to get them ready for the road. Also, their next road test were also discounted. We strive to make every teen learn to drive to stay alive. So we offer every student a free lesson prior to their road test to make sure they are ready. But just as I can’t take the test for my students I can’t make them practice with their parents and I can’t make them take the free lessons.

    At Becky’s we are concerned with safety not money. We want your children knowing what should and shouldn’t be done safely in a car. It is because of this philosophy that we have lower income families attending. Some of these families do not have cars. We do all that we can to make sure these kids get the lessons they need to make them safe drivers. This often times goes way over and above the registry requirements.

    As a side note, had Kathy Curran been taking the road test she too would have failed. Even though she put on her seat belt she failed to look over her shoulder while pulling out on a busy street. Missing an adjacent street in her blind spot that she would not have been able to see in her mirror. Which is cause for failure on a road test.

    We realize other issues may be a matter of concern and we will address them each individually when we have decided which forum is best.

  • kathy clark

    I was appalled at the attack on Becky’s Driving School. My 3 adult children were students of Becky’s, and they are all excellent drivers today.
    This is not just a business to her, she has a real passion that her students remain safe and know all the rules of the road.
    Becky does have an unconventional way of teaching,that she doesn’t sugarcoat. The lessons taught in her class will always stay with the students.
    I hope someday my grandchildren will have the benefit of Becky’s Driving School.

    • cak

      spot on! I completely agree.

  • Not Good

    A personal attack …No just real people worried about their childrens health and well being. If you really dont mind your kids learning sex from some white trash missing theeth driving teacher. Hey go for it, as for me I will never put my kid in a place like that. She is crude and totally out of line with her comments amd behavior. Oh and wasn’t she accused last year of selling drugs to the students, and thats why there was a state cop sitting in her class room. To all that think she is teaching our kids something good you must just act like her any parent putting their kid in an environment like this should rethink their parenting skills. Get a clue people do you really think this behavior is ok? Absolutly not maybe she sould focus on her classroom manners more and less on her personal life.

    • Sabrina

      Actually the state trooper is training to be an instructor there….he obviously doesn’t have a problem with her methods.

      • Methods

        So because he does not have any problems with her teaching method, does that make her teaching methods right? Um Im gonna say teaching kids about sex is not her place. Therefore its does not make her methods ok. It is wrong, her driving school should be about driving not sex, drugs and any other than issues

    • kathy clark

      Who do you think you are!! To pass judgement on another human being and to use such a derogatory term as” white trash”…Shame on you!
      I don’t believe for a minute that Becky would sell drugs…. that state cop was probably in her class waiting to give the driving test

  • samantha

    Ummmmmm, yah the state cop that was sitting in her classroom has completed the training to work for Beckys driving school as a driving instructor. Maybe you should get your facts straight. That information can be obtained through the registry if you care to look. And as far as attacking someone and the way they look, shame on you!

  • Tess Casey

    Yikes, as an instructor, I have to frown :{ on this behavior in the class, or the car. Maybe some students did “get it” with her way of teaching, but not our job to push anymore info than THE ROAD.
    There are some real nut cases out there, tho, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of schools are on board with a strict curriculum – no sex, no drugs, no rock and roll. That’s right, we don’t even listen to the radio!

    • donna

      get a clue you don’t know what you are talking about. About anything you said. its all lies.think and know before you speak.

  • dan

    plain and simple…if you do not like the driving school don’t send your kids

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