GAIS Carpooling Stories

Carpooling with the Ashaer Family


My name is Katrin Ashear, and I have two ES children. Our recent move to RWC meant we needed to arrange new carpool opportunities and this is what we came up with: Almost every morning we alternate carpooling with a friend from first grade and on the way home we can sometimes include even two more kids from our new neighborhood. So usually we are 3-5 kids in the car, saving 1-2 moms a trip to school.

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For us the benefits of carpooling are multi-layered: The non-driving parents can start their day earlier and enjoy the precious extra time they have. I, for myself, am happiest when I can get a run in before I sit down to work at 9am. The children learn to be flexible of who they share the ride with that day, and they get an opportunity to hone their social skills. When I drive, I enjoy hearing what everyone did at school that day, and it extends the time to socialize. The other carpool moms report in-depth discussions of politics or history, and of other bonding experiences.

Carpooling is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our friendship with the parents of the carpool kids, it saves time and sets an excellent example for saving resources, and most importantly it signals to the GAIS neighbors that we do whatever we can to reduce the traffic impact on their streets.

K. Ashear

School-Bus “Smith Family”

Smith“School bus to GAIS departing momentarily… whoever is not buckled by the time I count to 5 doesn’t get a tic-tac!” The five kids in my carpool, 3 fifth graders Dana, Randy, Sofia, and 2 second graders, Colin and Eva, are buckled in no time, and off we go, three times a week in this constellation.

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Regine Staufenberg and I, Sybille Smith, were friends before our kids started at GAIS. There was no question in our minds that we would carpool starting on our kids’ first day at the school. Why? Honestly? Pure selfishness. Neither of us wanted to make the trip 10 times a week. Now we are in our sixth year at the school, and although extra-curricular activities sometimes get in the way of carpooling, neither one of us makes more than 6 trips to school per week. An since I drive a minivan, the 2 kids of the Gawlitzek/Weikert family also join us on the three mornings that I drive to school.

There are many reasons why one could carpool. Selfishness being only one of them. I haven’t sat down to calculate how much gas I save, but not having to deal with the agony of driving on 101 during rush hour, the time saved and the opportunity for the kids to practice their spelling words on the way to school before a quiz are enough reason for me!

S. Smith

Moving on with the Carpool of Rees FamilyRees
Our family (Christian, Heike and Alexander Rees (3rd grade)) has been carpooling since Vorschule with several families. We carpool every day in the morning with one family and after school with two other families. On a regular basis, there are up to 10 children involved at different times. At one point, we even had arrangements with five families to get the kids to and from school and soccer practice. It takes some effort and lots of communication to set up and make a carpool work, but the benefits are absolutely worth it!

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We’ve significantly reduced the number of our trips to and from school and love the fact that we spend much less time on clogged streets and use less gas. And we’ve become very good friends with our carpool families that we most likely wouldn’t have gotten to know so well without our carpools. Another great advantage is that there’s a lot going on during carpool rides that parents wouldn’t want to miss: Competitions in practicing spelling words, listening and singing to the newest hits on the radio, conversations about teachers and classroom dynamics (and the different perspectives of the kids), recitals of birthday and Christmas wishing lists, etc.There’s no doubt: We will keep our carpools going as long as possible.C. Rees

The Dillon-Pachtner Carpool – founded 2005Dillon carpool

  • Sabine Dillon and Indra Pachtner
  • My kids: Karina (6th grade) and Jack Dillon (2nd grade)
  • We carpool every day with the Pachtner family. Each Mom drives ones a day, some days even twice a day because of the older kid’s later school schedule.
  • We have six children in our carpool, Timmy (VS), Romy (3rd grade), Jack (2nd grade), Karina, Antonia and Marie (6th grade).

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When we started carpooling in 2005, we were just checking out how this all will work out.  Over the years we have developed a deep friendship with the Pachtner family, adults and kids alike.  As you would think that the kids maybe tired of each other’s company (carpool and school together), they still ask for more play time together.

It is sometimes challenging to co-ordinate the schedule of 6 kids in the age range of 5-13yrs after school. Since both families live in San Mateo, we are challenged to do pick-up all at once, as it doesn’t make sense to drive back and forward between San Mateo and Menlo Park for extracurricular activities and play dates.  Our children not only share carpooling together, but we also do play dates, sleep overs, go together to horseback riding lessons (where we carpool again), or do have an entire afternoon with piano lessons for 5 out of the 6 children.   Our carpool has even extended to an international level, where Indra took my daughter Karina with her on a flight to Munich so she could visit with her Grandma, while I wasn’t available for travel due to work.

On rare occasions we don’t carpool, like teacher conferences, or first day of school and the children are usually very disappointed and say it’s boring driving to school without their friends. While it sometimes can become loud and hectic in the car, most of the time it is so much fun to share stories, kids reading to each other or practicing a performance or presentation with each other. The input you hear is priceless. Of course the kids will talk about school issues, things they look forward too, teachers who had some mishappenings or were “mean” today and of course the kids at school who misbehaved and had to go to the dean’s office. It is quiet entertaining, and often we sing and have fun. As the Christmas time is approaching, of course we will have a German Christmas CD in the car and the kids will sing to that…until we can’t listen to it anymore….

Besides the priceless friendship effect the carpool had on our lives, we safe tremendous travel time, gasoline, wear and tear on the car, occupy fewer parking spots at school and we do something right for our precious environment.  One turn-around trip from our home to the school and back to our home is at best 1 hour often due to traffic, parking, sign-ins etc. more 1.5 hr.  If I had to do this twice a day, I would lose an entire workday for each week.

An interesting aspect I want to mention is that since we have carpooled since 2005, both families have moved to different homes. Each time our families were contemplating moving to a different home, it was understood without saying that the next home had to be close to our carpool proximity, so we could continue our wonderful carpool friendship.

As there are many stories we could share about our carpool, we are tremendously grateful and lucky to have found such a wonderful family and friends, to share travel time to school and so much more.  We are looking forward to continue our carpool with our Pachtner friends for a long time to come and we and our children will treasure the friendships we have found through the carpool for a lifetime.

S. Dillon

Vaughan Family


My name:  Laura Vaughan
My children: Sam, Reid & Tate
How many times per week do I carpool: 5
How many different families participate in my carpool: 4
How many different kids participate in my carpool (including my own): 8 boys

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Everyday our family has multiple carpools with different GAIS families — to GAIS in the morning, to soccer practice after school, and from soccer practice to home.  Coincidentally, all the GAIS students we carpool with are boys!  The keys to making carpooling with boys fun are: to always have food on hand, things to read in the car, and books on tape… We have listened to almost all of the “A to Z Mysteries”, “Magic Treehouse”, and “Percy Jackson: Lightening Thief” book series on tape.  We have studied for spelling tests in the car on the way to school, finished book reports & math homework, and have had younger student/passengers reading to the upper graders and vice versa in both German & English.  We have also had the unexpected bathroom and “pull over now” emergencies en route.  Those are super fun.  Because all of the parents communicate via texting, our arrangements are very flexible and accomodating; sometimes with less than 10 minutes when need be. We have really enjoyed getting to know the Ciortea, Wenzel, Zahir and Rees families and their kids better, and everyday we get in the car our kids excitedly ask, “who are we riding with today?”

L. Vaughan

Gerber Family

Gerber copy
Mein Name ist Sandra Gerber und ich habe zwei Buben, Simon (10 Jahre alt) und David (8 Jahre alt), in der 4. und 3. Klasse der GAIS. Wir “carpoolen” auf jedem Hinweg zur Schule, zum Fussballtraining meiner beiden Jungs und wieder für den Heimweg. Wir “carpoolen” mit vier verschiedenen Familien, wovon 8 Kinder jeweils mit uns mitfahren (natürlich nicht alle gleichzeitig).

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Ich finde das “Carpoolen” toll, da man einfach viel Zeit gewinnt – an den Tagen, an denen ich nicht fahren muss, habe ich schon ganz rasch mal den Haushalt gemacht und bin trotzdem nicht zu spät im College und die Kinder finden es schön, mit Freunden mitfahren zu können. Zudem denke ich, dass es auch ökologisch viel sinnvoller ist, dass man sich zusammenschliesst und “carpoolt”. Ich würde sagen, die Vorteile überwiegen!

S. Gerber

Getting creative with a carpool – Graf Family

Graf CarpoolingWe have 2 kids at GAIS, Paul in 4th grade and Tommy in 1st and live in Redwood City. My husband and I both work for a German company, so most of our calls and meetings happen in the morning. Dropping the kids off at school in the morning takes me more than an hour so I could not be in the office before 9am. So it was clear that a carpool would make my life much easier.

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We carpool with the Lindley family. As you all know Susi works in the office, so she has to drive to school every morning to get to work. That means I never have to drive in the morning, which is a huge help for me as I can start work one hour earlier. The question was what I could do to help Susi in return. I found the perfect solution. The Lindleys like to have nutritious and healthy dinners but often there is little time to cook as soccer practice and many other things get in the way. So now we just cook more twice a week and fill it into containers. The next morning I give Susi the food and she can heat it up for dinner that day. For me it’s easy to just cook bigger portions and for Susi it’s a huge help not to worry about dinner preparation at least 2 nights a week. I love our arrangement and Susi says she does too.

In the afternoon I pick up my kids and sometimes we carpool with another family if our kids have playdates or share an activity.

There are many things people can do for each other in exchange for carpool such as run errands, watch the kids, walk a dog, bake a cake or cook dinner. You just need to find a family to drive with and get creative!

A. Doerzapf

Carpooling Facts of the Furlan Family:Furlan
Name: Diane Furlan
My children: Aimee and Linnea Furlan
Times I drive in carpool = three times; The carpool itself runs every morning and smaller variations of our usual morning carpool take place in the afternoon due to the kids’  various after-school activities.
Four families participate in the carpool.
Five kids get shuttled about in the carpool.
D. Furlan


Details of the Oste Family – Carpooling System


My name: E. Oste
My child(ren): Alissa + Fiona
How many times per week do I carpool: every day
How many different families participate in our carpool: 2 Families, but 3 housholds
How many different kids participate in our carpool (including your own): 6

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1. why I love to carpool: it saves time !!!
2. One time when my carpool saved me: every morning !
3. Funniest carpool story: my daughter Alissa loves to read and she reads Harry Potter to the other kids, while we are driving.
4. Tip(s) for a parent considering a carpool: get to know other parents and children
5. Why carpooling totally makes sense: time and cost efficient
6. What you save by carpooling and how much: 1 hour every time I don’t drive!

E. Oste