When Maria and Rich Wojtczak moved to Arizona in 1998, there was one thing they kept noticing.
“There was literally one car crash after another after another,” Maria says.
The couple both had previous careers with Ford Motor Company—he was part of the systems group, and she began as an administrator and then moved into the cultural change work that incorporated the principles of adult learning. It was where they learned how to train and engage people differently—and so began researching local driver training options.
They also explored simulation technology—like flight simulators and simulators used for police training and truck drivers—and realized drivers could greatly benefit from this technology.
While they originally thought to offer it to augment what existing driver training schools were doing, they quickly realized that parents were looking for a one-stop-shop.
And so, DrivingMBA was created.
Launched in 2003, the driving school not only offers one of the most robust driver’s education programs in the state, but in the country. It is also the only driving school locally that also offers a special program for exceptional students, including those with ADD, ADHD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, OCD, Crohn’s disease, bi-polar disorder, and more. Specialists on staff are familiar with different learning styles and challenges.
“Our philosophy is to recognize what students need and meet them there,” Maria says.
They start with an assessment and work at the student’s pace—whether that takes a few months or several years. The goal is build competence and to develop a mindset of safety.
Today, more than 15,000 teen and adult drivers have graduated from DrivingMBA, which has locations in both Scottsdale and Glendale. And still, it is the only driving school in Arizona that offers the simulation labs as part of its extensive driver training programs.
“We’ve learned over time that when you put a student in a simulation lab, especially for the fundamentals, it gives them a good base of skills; they can learn all the basics in a safe and controlled environment. And, you can replay it and talk about what they could have done differently,” Maria says.
DrivingMBA also offers a defensive driving simulation lab, which teaches drivers to handle a variety of situations that can’t be taught on-road, such as a blown tire and a car coming at them head-on.
It also offers assessments for seniors, and more.
“This feels like a calling,” Maria says of running the school. “It’s the right thing to do.”