Virginia Bus Driver Wins Big Money
published on August 20, 2021 by Sonia Mastros
School Transportation News recently reported on a nice bit of local news: a 23-year veteran Virginia school bus driver who won $10,000 for her excellent service. Beyond simply being a great driver, she was constantly looking for ways to help her students and her community.
These sorts of stories are helpful, not just because they highlight great bus drivers, but because they remind us of just how much good a bus driver can do when they're engaged with their job. With the right ideas and encouragement, your school bus drivers can help their community, while building stronger ties between everyone within your district.
Here are a few ideas.
Four Ways a Bus Driver Can Do More Than Just Drive the Bus
1. Encouraging Student Success
The driver in the story, Cheryl Whalen, actively encouraged her students to study on the bus and tried to facilitate this. She gave her students small prizes for reading books, and also arranged seating so that trustworthy older students were paired with younger kids for mentoring and tutoring.
The growing use of WiFi on buses could open up entirely new ways for drivers to encourage student success while on the road.
2. Using Buses as a Roaming WiFi Hotspot
Some districts which have installed WiFi in their buses have made them available to the community during off-hours. The buses would drive to areas where Internet access was limited so that everyone nearby could make use of their connection. This could be vital if you have disadvantaged areas in your district which lack strong Internet connectivity!
3. Acting as Ambassadors
Many parents and other residents in a community may not realize how important the school bus system is, or how much good it does for students. Having drivers available to do outreach can help gain trust among the community. This could be particularly important if your district is looking towards school bus upgrades, such as a switch to electric vehicles, and need to start laying the groundwork to ask for funding.
4. Providing Emotional Support
Some students may not feel comfortable going to their regular teachers for emotional support, or to discuss difficult problems, given the level of authority and control those teachers have. A bus driver can be a "safe" source of support since their influence over the students' academic lives is much smaller.
Do your own bus drivers do anything that goes "above and beyond" standard driving duties? If so, please share your stories in the comments below!