Bayou Driving Academy reopens on Belle Terre

Published 3:13 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

LAPLACE — Learning to drive is a rite of passage in a person’s life, and Bayou Driving Academy owners Joseph Terre and Ashlynn Dufour are there to guide students every step of the way.

Seven months after Hurricane Ida, Bayou Driving Academy celebrated the opening of its new location at 552 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Terre was originally a welder before an injury called for a change in profession. While he never imagined himself as a driving instructor, it turned out to be his calling.

In 2019, Terre started managing Bayou Driving Academy in LaPlace to help out a friend. In December 2021, Terre and his wife, Ashlynn, purchased the business.

Terre is 37 years old, and he still remembers his driving school experience as a major milestone in his life. He hopes to have the same impact on every student who comes through the Bayou Driving Academy classes.

“I tried it out, and I found out, hey, I’m really good at this. The kids really like me, and I’m able to relate to them. I’m an easygoing guy, but when it comes to driving, I’m serious. I was able to adapt pretty well,” Terre said. “I believe everything happens for a reason, and God puts you in spots where you need to be. I feel this is my calling.”

Bayou Driving Academy was still new to LaPlace when it was faced with the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida, the latter of which tore apart the original location next to the Donut Hole in LaPlace.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the rebuilding process, Terre and Dufour searched for a new location to continue offering driving classes to the community. Reopening at 552 Belle Terre Blvd. has allowed them to continue making an impact in a town they love.

Terre also looks for opportunities for sponsorships to support local schools and teams.

Bayou Driving Academy’s instructors go the extra mile to accommodate students in an atmosphere that is light-hearted, yet always professional and respectful.

On one occasion, a student pulled Terre to the side and admitted he struggled with reading and writing. Instead of singling the student out, Terre waited until the rest of the class had cleared out so he could administer the written test orally.

“A lot of people get discouraged if they can’t do something, and they automatically think you are going to turn them away. That’s not the case here,” Terre said. “We are going to help you as much as we can. We will be here to make sure you get the tools and the resources that you need to pass this test.”

Getting positive feedback from the community inspires Terre to keep going.

A recent review from parent Aprail Anderson reflected on her daughter’s experience in the course.

Anderson wrote: “My daughter was very nervous before she scheduled her driver’s course. Mr. Joe is very patient, understanding, professional and a good motivator. He makes good jokes to make you feel relaxed. She is so comfortable driving now. Once they made a stop, she sent me a text to inform me how well she was doing and did not know why she was so nervous. My daughter shared how funny, kind and a good listener he is. He will not only teach you to pass your driving test but to be a good, safe driver.”

Bayou Driving Academy offers teen and adult driving programs each month. Terre has had students of all ages, ranging from 14 all the way to 72.

The 38-hour class for ages 17 and under includes 30 hours of classroom instruction time and eight hours of behind the wheel coaching. Children are eligible to attend the classroom portion at 14 years and nine months old. However, teens must be 15 years old to complete the behind-the-wheel portion of the program.

Adults ages 18 and up take a 14-hour class that includes six hours of classroom instruction and eight hours behind the wheel.

The cost of the teen program is $475, while the cost of the adult program is $375. Both the teen and adult programs include the OMV written test.

Terre is additionally certified as a third-party tester and can offer private lessons to individuals who need to brush up on their driving skills.

Bayou Driving Academy offers the road skills test, the final driving test before obtaining a driver’s license, for $50.

Those interested in registering for classes with Bayou Driving Academy must first obtain a temporary instructional permit. The website bayoudriving.com makes the process easy by connecting users to the nearest DMV locations.

The 38-hour class for ages 17 and under has already started for the month of April. Upcoming classes for ages 17 and under will be held on the following dates: May 14, 15, 21, 22; June 5, 11, 12, 18; June 27-30; July 3, 9, 10, 16; July 25-28; August 13, 14, 20, 21; September 10, 11, 17, 18; and October 15, 16, 22, 23. Class times are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 14-hour class for ages 18 and up is held once a month from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Upcoming class dates for adults are May 7, June 4, July 2, August 6, September 3, October 8, November 5 and December 3.

Additional resources are available online at bayoudriving.com.

For more information, email infobayoudriving@gmail.com or call/text Ashlynn Dufour at 504-228-2023 or Joe Terre at 504-269-8375.