We are coming to the end of a unique school year with hopes for something more ‘normal’ next year. It has been challenging for school boards, administrators, teachers, support staff, janitors, cooks and bus drivers. Each job has taken on a new meaning and added additional work.
There has been one constant through the school year. Each morning millions of parents entrust their child to school bus drivers who take them safely to school and deliver them back home again. That is not as easy as it sounds.
I know and have known many school bus drivers, some friends, some relatives and some were my drivers. One thing that is very evident with most of these is their love of children and their concern for their safety. While the children may not like it when they are being told to sit down or remain in their assigned seat, it is for the well-being of the child.
As a child, I both liked and disliked the daily bus rides. Sometimes the drivers made it fun. I remember one of them making sure to give us all a good ‘bump’ when going through one intersection. We all cheered with delight. At holidays and the end of the school year, the drivers, then and now, make sure to treat the kids with goodies. The rides got long and boring but a smile or greeting from the driver made it easier.
I have heard stories from drivers about some of the ‘near misses’ their students have had due to inattentive drivers traveling near a bus. Some disobey the stop arm rules and go around just as children are about to cross the road. I can hear the frustration and sorrow as they talk about what could have happened.
Bus drivers are also concerned after a child leaves the safety of the bus. They often wait until they see the child safely enter a home. If it appears that no one is home, or they have arrived too early, they will wait. I had a friend, who drives a school bus, tell me that he kept a child on the bus and even took her to the Dairy Queen while they waited for a parent to get home. The parent was so thankful that their child did not have to sit outside alone and wait.
When a child breaks an arm or leg, they get out of their seat to help them on and off the bus. If someone is sick for an extended time, they will send cards, visit or make deliveries for them. Those children become an important part of their lives.
Bus drivers are often the first school person a child sees each morning. A friendly greeting and smile can totally make their day brighter. Then after a long day at school, that same bus driver will ask them about the day and what they learned. He or she will laugh with them, commiserate over problems and cheer for good grades on school papers. Soon a friendship grows that can last for many years.
I want to say a big thank you to our school bus drivers and also to all bus drivers, not just in school buses. We entrust them with our lives and the lives of people we love. They take that very seriously and we often overlook how hard they work to do so.
Thank you bus drivers for another safe and fun year!