Thanksgiving Gratitude: Stories of Thankful School Bus Drivers

Every individual connected with the school and educational community contributes something to the organization that keeps it going – and growing. When it comes to the safety of the students within the school grounds, there are crossing guards who protect them. When it comes to their safety outside of school, there are school bus drivers and aides who make sure that the children are transported to and from school safely.

Nowadays, the role of a school bus driver and aides has become more important. School transportation professionals are not only trained to protect students on their way to school but they are also trained to educate students about the school’s procedures and mode of operations.

Transportation professionals closely interact with students and their families on a regular basis. They have become allies, guardians, surrogate parents, and friends of the thousands of children they transport to and from school every day. These remarkable individuals should not only be thanked but also celebrated for their positive impact and how they help their respective communities. 

But how about gratitude from the part of the school bus drivers themselves? It’s not uncommon to see drivers staying in their jobs for many years, even decades. They are just happy to see the children every day. They feel like these students are their own kids and a part of their family. School bus drivers are thankful that they are a part of the children’s formative years and see them grow to become good, respectful, and responsible individuals. They are also thankful to be a significant part of the community that recognizes their hard work, dedication, commitment to safety, and their positive impact on them.

The unsung heroes of education

Although the role of school transportation professionals in education may not appear direct, they are crucial in shaping the lives of the students. The main role of school bus drivers and aides is transporting students to school and other sites within the designated route(s) and ensuring their safety while they’re on board.

However, these professionals handle a lot more responsibilities than just getting behind the wheel. These trained individuals maintain order for their young passengers from embarking to disembarking the bus, regularly clean, maintain, and conduct pre-driving inspections on their vehicles to ensure safe operating conditions, and a lot more.

In most instances, a school bus driver is the first person a student sees every day, greeting them with a smile as the student gets on the bus. They re also the last person from school a student sees every day. With that comes the responsibility of starting them off on the right foot and sending them home.

Heartwarming stories of gratitude

Story 1: The Bus Driver Who Became a Mentor

School bus drivers interact with their students every day. It is not uncommon to see a lot of school bus drivers forming friendships with their young passengers. One of them is Mark Baldwin from Greely, Colorado, who drives a bus for students from Dos Rios Elementary School and Greely West High School. 

Baldwin is very well-liked by his young wards, who describe him as “good” and “not ever mad.” The students add that he makes sure that they are safe on the bus. It’s what Baldwin does above and beyond his job description that these kids see him as special. 

Baldwin found a new job after retiring from a successful construction business, whose past projects included the very school he stops at every day on his route. He implements a special mentoring scheme on his bus that asks each fifth grader to ensure a younger kindergartner remains seated and gets off the bus and into the school safely. This is something that a lot of fifth graders are excited about because they get to be “in charge,” which makes them feel a sense of responsibility.

Baldwin also incentivizes good behavior by giving out coupons as a reward to children who create no problems whatsoever inside the bus.

He also sees himself as the “neutral ground” between the student’s parents and the teachers, so he takes a few minutes every day to talk to the students and help them with anything they need.

Students must have a lot to be thankful for having a bus driver who’s good, kind, patient, sees great potential in them and has a genuine concern for their well-being. 

Baldwin credits his students for keeping him up-to-date on the latest trends, teaching him handshakes, and other things. But most of all, he credits them for teaching him what he sees as the most important lesson he can learn at this point in his life. As he has become a new grandfather himself, he has found out how to become a good one because the children would tell him about what they like and what they don’t like about him.

Story 2: A Lifelong Friendship with Parents

It’s also not unusual to see school bus drivers forming friendships with the student’s parents, aside from the students themselves. Some parents even take the time and effort to show their gratitude to school bus drivers who befriend their children and make a big difference in their lives. This beautiful story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and his school bus driver generates gratitude from a parent and the driver himself.

Kelly Isenberg of Summerville, South Carolina, penned a letter to the Berkeley County School District to express her gratitude for school bus driver Charles Frierson for making a big difference in her 6-year-old son’s life. She went on to say that her son’s transition to kindergarten was challenging. But Frierson, who drove the boy to and from school each day, encouraged positive behavior in the little boy.

Frierson was also grateful for his friendship with Kameron, who he said “means the world” to him. According to the youngster’s special education teacher, Kameron was struggling when he started school, and he “has done a complete 180,” crediting Frierson for the kid’s positive transition.

Story 3: Community Connections

Students often have the same bus drivers during their school years. Because of the daily social and personal interactions, school bus drivers will likely be more familiar with children and their families over time. They have become well-known and friendly figures who help establish and foster positive connections within their community.

One school bus driver in Skokie, Illinois, is a very well-known figure in their community for bringing joy and positive vibes for decades. Alvin Carter, who has driven a bus for kindergartners at Elizabeth Meyer School for almost three decades, loves his daily interactions and bonding with his young wards.

In fact, Carter is a natural when it comes to interactions, and he thrives in it. He says the kindergartners “make his day.” He has eight children of his own, all grown-ups now. He says the kids on the bus remind him of his own children when they were at that age, and he revels in that. In fact, he has tried to retire over the years, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

In addition to having fun chats and jokes with the little students, Carter sees it as his duty to motivate each kid on the bus. He wants them to become successful in life. He adds that if it’s in kindergarten, then it might continue.

While he doesn’t claim any credit, Carter speaks with pride about some of his students who have gone on to have successful careers. He honks at them whenever he sees them, and they also love running into him – which can be seen as an act of gratitude to their beloved school bus driver. Although he jokes that it can be all too much at times, Carter says he loves being around people in his community, which motivates him and keeps him going.

Grateful drivers, grateful communities

Safety behind the wheel is the top priority of every driver. But a school bus driver views safety somewhat differently.

The fact alone that they have the primary task of transporting students to and from school already places a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Along with a greater number of challenges due to the size and nature of their vehicles and the increasing complexity and potential dangers of driving on community roads, their duties extend to taking part in road safety. Additionally, school bus drivers must deal with the physical and mental demands that come with alert driving practices.

The students’ safety outside of school grounds is dependent on the driver’s ability to follow traffic rules and regulations, comply with safety procedures, and respond during emergencies.

Aside from these responsibilities, school bus drivers have the opportunity to encourage positive experiences that help children feel happy, secure, welcome, and confident. They spread compassion towards others as their actions are reflected in every individual they encounter throughout the day. For this, school bus drivers are grateful that they are given this opportunity to protect the children who are on their way to school and serve their community, as well as being a positive force within it.

Communities are also thankful to have school transportation professionals. With these individuals around, parents and teachers feel assured that the children are safe in their hands. A simple “thank you” and a smile from the parents, teachers, guardians, and other people in their community go a long way for these drivers, who make the daily commute safe and pleasant for the students. They would also leave small gestures, such as leaving a thank-you note, small gift, or any token of appreciation, to their school bus drivers or transportation staff. Some community members even get involved in helping school bus drivers by joining the transportation team or volunteering as school bus attendants.

Conclusion

School Transportation Professionals are thankful for being given the wonderful opportunity to serve their respective school districts and communities. They are also thankful that they are given the chance to make a big difference in the lives of the children whom they transport to and from school every day. 

But with gestures of appreciation and gratitude from the communities they serve, transportation professionals are even more thankful that they chose this career path and will be even more inspired to do better in their jobs despite the challenges they face. It is not uncommon to see a lot of school bus drivers last long in their jobs because they love working with people who are so thankful to have them every day.

Look for ways to let school bus drivers know how much you appreciate them by reading this recent article. If you would like to be a PA school bus driver, check out positions available at School Bus Hero.