102 East State Street
Ithaca, New York 14850
(607) 273-5880
CONTACT US

About Us

In the 1960's, Si Orton founded and operated the Big Red Bell Driving School.  His unique teaching
techniques caught on in the Ithaca area.  His classroom was located in an old building where the new County Mental Health Services now stand on Green Street.  In the Mid 80's Si moved the classroom to its present location at 101 N. Cayuga St. above Williams Shoe store.  During Si's thirty  years, he taught thousands of Ithaca area residents and college students from all over the world to drive.  Many of our current students, parents, and friends mention their enjoyable experience learning to drive at the Red Bell School.



In the late 80's Art Yaple, an employee for the driving school purchased the school and in 1990,  the Big Red Bell Driving School was incorporated.  The classroom was remodeled and Art purchased a new Honda Accord Driver Ed car which is replaced every three years.   In the last 16 years the Big Red Bell Driving School has expanded its services and staff. The Pre-licensing courses are offered twice a week  and driving instruction daily throughout the year.  Our staff of professional instructors are dedicated and always assess  each student's needs before teaching  them to develop the defensive driving skills required to drive in today's traffic system.



The Big Red Bell Driving School is the only locally owned and operated driving school in the Ithaca area for the past 50 years.  We have been asked to set up satellite offices in other cities but have always declined.  Our business strategy is to serve Ithaca and the surroundings communities and incoming students by offering a quality instructional program.  We do advertise in local schools and yellow page publications, however, most of our business comes from referrals from previous satisfied students who are now licensed drivers.

Instructors (John, Tom & Art)

Art is the owner and president of the Big Red Bell Driving School. He is retired after 33 years of teaching with the Ithaca City School District. In 1975, Art completed graduate work at Ithaca College to become certified to teach Driver Education in the public schools.  In 1980 he became an instructor for the National Safety Counsel Defensive Driving Course. In 1988 Art also became certified by NYS to teach professional driving.  Art's interests include motorcycle touring, hunting and teaching.

Sharon (not pictured) became certified to teach Professional Driver Education in 1997, and has been a driving instructor for the Big Red Bell Driving School ever since.  Sharon is retired after 31 years with Smith Corona Typewriter Corporation. Students enjoy Sharon's friendly and caring personality and appreciate her attention to detail. Sharon is also the office manager and schedules most of  the appointments. Sharon's hobbies include motorcycle touring, sewing and cooking.

John became certified to teach Professional Driver Education in 1997 and has been a driving instructor for the Big Red Bell Driving School ever since.  John is retired from the Ithaca City Youth Bureau and has been head coach for many youth and high school sport teams.  John's interests include athletics, hunting, relaxing with friends and most of all, his family.

Tom is a teacher for the Ithaca City School District and is certified to teach Driver Education in the public schools.  He joined the Big Red Bell Driving School in 1991 and teaches driving instruction as well as the Pre-licensing course.  Tom coaches football every fall and in addition to focusing on his family, his hobbies include Nascar racing, camping and family get togethers.

Pre-Licensing Course
NYS Mandatory 5-Hour Pre-Licensing Course

- Offered every Tuesday & Thursday at 5:00PM Sharp!
- Bring New York State Learner's Permit
- Pre-Registration is NOT Required
- Our Classroom is Located on the Second Floor at:

102 East State Street
Ithaca, New York 14850
(West End of the Commons)

→ Cars Supplied For Road Test

→ All Cars Dual-Brake Controlled