Appreciation of bus drivers grows

I was reflecting back over the year with a driver the other day on the impalpable joys of transporting students to and from school.

The joyful tears of the parent letting their student off to school the first day, who now greets you with a nod or an appreciative good morning wave. The student you thought would never respond to your morning greetings, whose attitude has changed and now greets you with a very quiet “hi,” as to not let their buddies know that they are talking to you.

Do you remember back during the first week of school greeting the wide-eyed kindergarten students who were apprehensively excited about their first day on a school bus? It is amazing to watch the growth and maturing of students over the school year, and again over the summer break when the students disappear from our lives for several months.

Sometimes we feel that our job is one of the unappreciated, but necessary parts of the school day. However, each day that I sub a route and hear the students asking where their regular bus driver is and see the parents skeptically look at me and ask where the regular driver is. I can see what a big part of not only the students’ lives they are, but also the parents’. They place their complete faith in the job that you do, knowing that it takes a really special person to be a school bus driver.

Transporting students back and forth has changed from when I began in the early 1990s. It seems that the media sensationalizes the negative, not acknowledging the hurdles that we have to navigate through daily like the distracted drivers playing with their cell phones or the overly aggressive and impatient commuters we run across every day. I forget all that stuff when I see the smiling faces of kids and their parents as they climb aboard. — Jim O’Neill, Becker