Oct. 20 proclaimed School Transportation Appreciation Day in Kansas
Being a bus driver is often a job that people pick up as a second job to make a little extra cash. It is rarely something that people dream of doing after graduating high school or college. However, in my years of both bus driving and supervising bus drivers, I have discovered something. Bus drivers rarely quit! And let me be the first to tell you…… it is not because it is an easy job! A bus driver is expected to drive a large commercial vehicle down the road and into driveways. That would be intimidating for many motorists driving passenger vehicles, let alone a large commercial vehicle. In addition to this, bus drivers in our area are responsible for keeping up to 60 students ages 3 through 18 in their seats and under control for the duration of their trip. If that isn’t enough, bus drivers are expected to keep a tight schedule and get those kids picked up and where they need to be on time. It can be an overwhelming job.
So why on earth would a person stay at a job that has all those requirements and all that responsibility?? In almost any other profession those working conditions would go hand in hand with high turnover rates. But, I believe there are two main reasons that causes our bus drivers to stick with their job.
First, I believe our bus drivers for the Washington County Schools are some of the most loyal people you will ever encounter. They are part of the team, and as long as our schools have work for them to do, they are all in. An example of this loyalty is found in their response to needing delivery drivers to deliver meals to homes around the county when school was out of session due to Covid-19. My drivers were eager to work and jumped at the opportunity to take care of our students!
Second, I believe the bus drivers for the Washington County Schools have seen the difference they make in the lives of their students. Our bus drivers LOVE their students. We have something here that the bigger urban schools cannot reciprocate no matter how hard they try. Our drivers invest in their students! They are family friends; they interact with these families in the grocery store, or at ball games. Bus drivers see these students at their very best and occasionally, they see them when life has got them down. Our drivers pay attention to the needs of their students. If a student is having a bad morning when they get on the bus, our drivers get involved! They encourage, build up, and many times can turn that student’s day around before they even enter the classroom! I believe this purpose is the main reason our bus drivers rarely quit. It is what gets them out of bed in the morning ready to make a difference in the lives of their students.
I am so thankful for the bus drivers at USD 108. Our current route drivers are Kevin Elder, Mary Fuhrken, Tammy Gano, Paula Grace, and Joanna Novak. Our substitute and activity drivers are Don Brax, Michelle Bruna, Richie Hill, John Kern, Greg Metz, Scott Romeiser, and Cindy Sawin They are a hardworking, loyal, caring group of people and we could not do this school thing without them. So the next time you see a bus driver, no matter what school district you may be a part of, make sure you thank them for the difference they are making in the lives of the students of this county.