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The Pillars of a School District: The Bus Driver

Transportation is a must have.
Cameron Loss
A common sight around the nation are the buses waiting for the children

When I think of a pillar in the structure of a school system, an obvious one arises. How do so many children attend school daily in the United States? By the courageous and honorable work of America’s school bus drivers. Their full story needs to be brought to light and their work must be examined to the degree in which they deserve.    

I spoke with two bus drivers for twenty minutes, and I learned so many new things about the struggles and challenges of being a bus driver. The experience opened my eyes to the reality of being a bus driver, and deepened my respect for what they do. The bus drivers I interviewed drive Bus Three and Bus One, respectively. 

Imagine being the only adult that is tasked with driving, supervising 50+ children, and having to remember the house locations of everyone on the bus. This is truly a difficult task and for me a daunting one (which seems to be the consensus among drivers). I also learned that with time the job gets easier.

They want to assist in the raising of the next generation”

Bus drivers use landmarks on the bus route to remember the locations of where kids live and where they need to get picked up. This is why being out ten minutes before pick-up is vital for learning a route. The drivers create a mental map of their route using landmarks and road features and without a person there on the first day, it would be stressful for a driver learning routes. 

I also found it fascinating that bus drivers have the names of every kid memorized and are constantly learning and incorporating more names into their routes. I also learned that driving a bus is physically tough as well. Long slim roads are a nightmare to turn around on and they cause much stress.

Drivers have to be able to think on the fly to manage detours and single-day route alters. Drivers also must be on standby in case of emergency evacuations where they would be needed to shuttle kids.

The calm before the storm–our faithful drivers chat before the afternoon drive. (Cameron Loss)

As a driver, you must possess the following traits. You have to be adaptable and able to accept sudden changes in a schedule. You have to learn the layouts of roads that differ from your assigned route in case of sudden change. You need to work in the moment and not be thrown off by sudden bumps in the road, figuratively and physically. 

A school bus has seven mirrors, three on each side of the front and one interior mirror. Because it is almost impossible for a driver to see a kid standing directly in front of a bus, the driver has to rely on the six front mirrors and alternate between them to monitor a kid walking or to see if a car is coming.

Drivers occasionally have to deal with inconsiderate people  who will speed by a stopped bus that is in the process of letting kids off. The person will speed by and honk their horns in a mocking manner. I learned this is a big reason that some of the bus security cameras point out the window and towards the back door window. There is also a security camera that monitors the driver’s actions in case of any accidents or incidents there will be no disputes.

Another huge struggle bus drivers had to deal with was the rise of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone but what was the impact on the educational systems busing system? The result was a more careful and fully masked state of operation.

Throughout the school year, COVID, whatever, these pillars of every school community are always ready. (Cameron Loss)

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was ruled that every window must be opened which in the winter created a cold and almost miserable interior experience for a student. So, we can only imagine the burden on the person who has to stay on the bus.

I asked why they work this job and what appeals to them about this job. They explained they did do it for the children and they enjoy seeing the kids grow up. I also received one of my best answers and it is relatable. They explained they loved to drive a big bus and all the feelings that go along with driving a large vehicle.

Simply, bus drivers do so much for the community and deserve to be recognized more. April 25th is Bus Driver Appreciation Day and I hope on this day especially you can thank a bus driver. These workers do not do this solely for money; it is a deeper cause that motivates them to do what they do. They want to assist in the raising of the next generation even through the means of driving children to and from school. They leave a lasting impact on the kids they drive and we should be thankful for their massive contributions to humanity.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Gemme
Matthew Gemme, Staff Reporter
I am a junior at Sutton. That is all you get.

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    SheilaOct 25, 2023 at 9:01 pm

    Yes, everything that was said is true. I am a School Bus Driver…WE do it because We love the Kids. When the kids get on the bus, they belong to US, the driver. I love my job. To school SAFE, back home SAFE.