Just another day on Bus 142
Driving a school bus is the kind of job where the employee must get it right every time -- precious lives depend on it. This excellent story, by Joel Turner, can help school bus drivers understand that they are not alone in their struggles. But every bit as important, this story can help parents and school staff gain some insight, concerning the school buses, and the important role adults can play when helping the bus driver keep kids safe. (jk)
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By Joel Turner
Joel is a reporter for Virginia's Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia. He covers Roanoke Valley schools and education. This story was first published by The Roanoke Times, original story title, JUST ANOTHER DAY ON BUS 142, published March 26, 2001, Copyright ©2001, All Rights Reserved. Posted by permission from The Roanoke Times.
Low pay, high stress create shortage of drivers for schools
By Joel Turner, The Roanoke Times
Roanoke Valley, Virginia - So what's in a Tuesday for school bus driver Jerry Hubbard?
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. so you can get to the bus lot in Salem by 6:40.
Checking the lights, tires and safety equipment before cranking up the 78-passenger, diesel-powered Blue Bird bus on a cool, gray morning.
Listening to the crackling of the bus' two-way radio as you head down Apperson Drive before the morning traffic gets heavy.
Wheeling onto Stoneybrook Drive in Southwest Roanoke County to pick up elementary pupils in the Castle Rock neighborhood.
Greeting mothers and fathers who come to the curb with their children to make sure they don't run out into the street.
Saying "good morning" to each student as he or she gets on the bus, calling almost all by name.
Receiving morning greetings from many students as they climb aboard. A few seem sleepy, almost oblivious to the world, and say nothing.
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Waiting for a boy sprinting across his lawn because he's two minutes late for the bus.
Stopping for a dog in the middle of a street.
Turning on the radio so the students can listen to music.
Glancing in the overhead mirror to see whether the students are sitting in their seats.
Having to call down a junior high boy who gets too loud.
Remembering the location of all 50 stops in neighborhoods where the houses and streets often look alike.
Driving two routes in the morning and two in the afternoon - one to Cave Spring Elementary and the other to Hidden Valley Junior High - that cover 50 miles a day.
Letting two elementary children sit in your lap as you wait for other buses to load at Cave Spring Elementary in the afternoon.
Guiding the bus around sharp corners on narrow residential streets.
Chatting with another driver as you wait for students to board the buses at Hidden Valley Junior High.
Remembering to flip the switch for the bus's yellow warning lights before each stop.
"I watch the small kids all the way to their houses. I like to know that someone is there to take care of them."
-- Jerry Hubbard
Watching third-grader Kendall Lynch climb down the bus steps, walk around in front of the bus and hold out a red flag while two other pupils get off the bus.
Gearing down to climb a steep hill in the Greenwood Forest neighborhood off Brambleton Avenue.
Stopping at the HoneyTree Early Learning Center on McVitty Road to let 30 elementary children off in the afternoon.
Driving on busy Virginia 419 in a convoy of Hidden Valley Junior High buses as cars whiz by in heavy traffic.
Waiting for small children to walk to their houses after they get off the bus in the afternoon.
Tuesday was just another day on Bus 142.
Hubbard looks after the children like a father. If parents are not waiting at the bus stop to greet the elementary pupils when he takes them home in the afternoon, Hubbard waits until they are safely inside their suburban homes before pulling away.
"I watch the small kids all the way to their houses," he said. "I like to know that someone is there to take care of them."
Some are so small that they can hardly climb onto and off the bus, he said. Continued on Page Two
DEATH AT THE SCHOOL BUS STOP - what happens, how it happens and how to prevent it
More kids die at their bus stop, many run over by their own school bus, than die in the 55,000 school bus crashes that occur in the United States each year. 2safeschools looks at how parents and school staff can help prevent death at the school bus stop. Click Here for: Death at the school bus stop. Click Here for: 2safeschools Press Release. Click Here for: Free training presentation.
DEATH AT THE SCHOOL BUS STOP
Free Danger Zone Flyer - Free browser printable flyer, "Danger at the school bus stop," covering bus stop safety. Recommend minimum 300 dpi, may have to scale down printer output on some printers.
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