Next Friday is Day 90, which means 90 to go. We are at the halfway point in the school year and a good spot for reflection. Let’s take a look inside the iconic school bus. Everyone knows what they do, but there is much more when you look behind the curtain. That is what we will do with this week’s Sunday Spotlight.
I marked my third anniversary working at First Student driving a school bus this week. Not a day goes by that the competence and professionalism of our drivers are not tested. I have a greater appreciation and respect for my teammates each day. Every day we turn the key, turn on the lights and hope for a seamless run. Most of the time, our wish is granted, but when the unexpected arises, we call on our training, experience, and sound judgment to bring normalcy back to the bus.
I was training and testing for three months before meeting my first student. At the time, I thought it was excessive. Now I wonder if it was enough, but you can never prepare for every challenge. That is life, and the unexpected can always mess with a good plan. The training and life experiences must blend to make you a successful driver and guardian of parents’ most prized gift; their children. That responsibility makes this job daunting and stressful, but both are calmed by each of us just doing our job. Let’s look at an example
This week, a routine bus run turned anything but routine. A young girl being brought home from school had a seizure, collapsed, and fell between the seats of the bus. One of the students alerted the bus driver, and a cool-headed individual did her job. The driver called the dispatcher with precise details. The school, police, and parents were called. An ambulance was dispatched. The young girl was transported to the local hospital for tests and then released to her parents. A young girl went home because a bus driver did her job.
Every driver has a unique story. Every man and woman has their reason for putting on a reflective vest and heading off each morning to fill their bus and deliver their students to their school. We do not need to stoke our egos to dispel the belief that we are simply drivers, but our daily actions do that for us. We are professional, trained, and dedicated guardians of your children, and despite the inherent stress, we love our job,
There are significant changes in our post-COVID America. The ridership is down as habits have yet to revert to pre-Pandemic norms. The long lines of cars in the parent drop-off and pick-up lanes are obvious. There also is a significant drop in public school enrollment. Charter and home-school are becoming more popular alternatives as parents are not happy with how public schools made physical improvements, and public school education results are forcing students elsewhere.
The noticeable changes on the bus are the interactions between riders. I have all high school riders, and you can meditate on my bus. There is virtually no communication between students, and this means those who may be neighbors. Earbuds are as standard as backpacks, and personal interaction has been replaced with text, IMs, and DMs. It is sad because social skills are disappearing quickly.
Some people think of us as just people driving for a part-time job. They could not be more wrong. I have only been driving for three years, but it did not take long to realize the incredible responsibility in what we do. Every day we transport dozens of kids, your children, to and from school safely and efficiently. In the dark of morning and the bright sun of afternoon, we are guardians of your children, your most precious belongings. We pick them up in the morning and deliver them home in the afternoon. Safe and sound. It is not just a job. It is serious business for us, and we love what we do. We do it for you, and we do it for your children. We do it because we love the job and the kids.