Driving school moves, expands

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

City Councilman Leroy Bennett helps Phyllis Foster Driving School owners Jeffrey and Rennee Townsend, surrounded by family and staff, cut the ribbon at the relocated business on Tuesday. The school is named after Jeffrey Townsend’s sister, who died in a car accident in 2002.

Phyllis Foster was in the backseat of a car, leaving an event at Lakeland High School with family members in July 2002, when she was killed in a tragic accident involving a teenage driver in the other car.

Her brother, Jeffrey Townsend, saw a problem that needed to be fixed.

“He said, ‘I’ve got to teach these teenagers how to drive,’” his wife, Rennee, said on Tuesday.

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That was the beginning of Phyllis Foster Driving School, which celebrates its 10th anniversary later this year and recently moved to a new building.

The business held a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday to celebrate the new location on East Washington Street.

“We’re blessed that Phyllis Foster Driving School had a chance to expand,” Rennee Townsend said.

The business started out with one car and was operated out of their home, she said in a short speech before the ribbon-cutting. Now, it has grown to include six cars and six instructors, as well as two administrative staff.

The driving school purchased a building just down the street from the building it formerly rented. The owners made renovations to the building using a façade grant from the city.

In its almost 10 years, the school has instructed more than 7,000 students in four courses, including classes for teens preparing to get their license and drivers who were court-ordered to take a driving improvement course for some traffic infraction.

“Congratulations to you, and thank you for remaining in Suffolk,” said Councilman Leroy Bennett, who helped cut the ribbon Tuesday. “We wish you much success in the years to come.”