Thank You, School Bus Drivers!

Northstar Notes

When I was growing up, school bus drivers were the adults in charge from the school doors to the front porch.

Published on: May 31, 2013

I intentionally watched our senior get on the bus during her last few days of school. She is our youngest and the last one to ride. When she was done with school on Wednesday, another chapter in our lives came to a close. We no longer will have a school bus stop at our house to pick up a student.

For nearly a decade, bus drivers that I remember—Jan, Bob, Bill, Bobbi and others—have safely driven our children to elementary, middle and high schools in the Anoka district. When I watched my oldest daughter board her bus in September 1993 for kindergarten, I said a silent prayer for the driver and all the kids heading to school that first day. I prayed for everyone's safety as I let go and entrusted the driver with my daughter's care. I did that every first day of school since.

When I was growing up, school bus drivers were the adults in charge from the school doors to the front porch.
When I was growing up, school bus drivers were the adults in charge from the school doors to the front porch.

When my children were in elementary school, I stood with them at the end of the driveway while waiting for the bus to arrive in the morning. It was one of my mom duties I enjoyed and I got to know most of the drivers by name. When my kids reached middle school, then they no longer wanted me to be seen. If I was outside with them, I had to quickly dodge behind a tree to hide. I understood. It wasn't cool to be seen with your mom at that age. I was an anomaly—this adult standing and waiting for a school bus. It was time to let go.

When I was growing up, school bus drivers were the adults in charge from the school doors to the front porch. They deserved and commanded respect from us. I remember Mrs. Cypher and Mr. Jakubik, both friendly, fair and firm. Especially Mrs. Cypher, who stood about 5'9". She took guff from no one, not even the high school boys who towered over her.

One day, those boys were goofing off in the back of the bus and she stopped mid-route, went back and told them to knock it off. When we arrived at the home of one of the troublemakers, he made a nasty remark to her as he stepped off the bus. She quickly shifted the vehicle into park, leapt down the steps, pulled him up by his leather coat, pushed him against the bus and gave him a quick lecture. He didn't ride for awhile after that. When he returned, he was sullenly behaved.

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I know today's bus drivers have their hands when disciplinary problems arise. The best they can do is to tell the offender to knock it off. Then they keep a tally of what happens and who does it, and report it to the school principal. Sometimes, the offending student receives appropriate punishment; sometimes not. I've heard the stories about how parents step in and get their child off the hook because suspension would inconvenience them. And I've heard about the parents who complain to the bus company when their child misses the bus. Really? Ever consider the fact that your kid was hiding behind a tree? Or that he never came out of the house, despite the fact that the bus stopped and waited for him?

After I watched my daughter board the bus these last few days, all I can offer is a heart-felt "thanks." Thank you to all the bus drivers over the years for the good job you have done; for providing a listening ear for a lonely youngster to greeting a half-awake teen early each day with "good morning."

You've transported my kids in sun and snow safely to school and home. You deserve a much needed break from the chatter and the traffic.

May you have a relaxing summer!