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November 18, 2010  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Out of the mouths of babes

SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon shares amusing and heartfelt excerpts from essays submitted by students for Thomas Built Buses' Children's Choice School Bus Driver of the Year essay contest.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author


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I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, so I'm well aware of how entertaining kids can be.

Recently, when a duck relieved himself on our back porch, our older boy was ready to dole out discipline. "That duck pooped on the floor," he said. "He's going to get a time-out."

Indeed, no adult could write the kind of pure comedy that these two little guys come up with. And it never gets old.

Accordingly, I always look forward to serving as a judge for the Children's Choice School Bus Driver of the Year essay contest, which Thomas Built Buses puts on annually.

As I recently pored over the stack of this year's entries, I was constantly amused by the kids' unexpected observations and quirky insights. But what struck me even more was how these heartfelt essays show what a significant impact school bus drivers have on their passengers.

For millions of children across the country, the bus driver is the bridge between home and school — the first staff member they see in the morning and the last in the afternoon.

I'm sure most school bus drivers have noted that important aspect of their job, but perhaps it's easy to forget from time to time just how much these youngsters look up to the person behind the wheel.

As evidence of that impact, here's a sampling of funny and touching comments that I pulled from this year's contest essays:

• "[My driver] was so kind, it helped me want to go to school and not be so shy."

• "He has the hardest job in the whole world."

• "I hope my sister could meet her to see how nice she is."

• "He makes the boys respect the girls."

• "On April 23, 2010, I was sad and not wanting to talk. She asked me what was wrong like three times. Usually, they only ask you like one time."

• "At Christmas, she gave us a gift, which must be hard on her salary!"

• "He makes sure that there are no bullies on the bus."

• "She was one of my favorite teachers."

• "He also knows how to work things like the engine, the steering, the front wheels and the brakes that are toward the back end and front end."

• "I went home and told my mommy, 'You don't have to worry - [my driver] takes good care of us.'"

• "She was a real comfort for my family when my grandmother died."

• "She doesn't care about the money that they pay her. All that she cares about is getting us to school safe."

If you enjoyed those quotes and are attending the National Association for Pupil Transportation conference in Portland, Ore., be sure to check out Mack Dryden's session "Kids Say the Darndest Things ... About School Transportation."

And I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to pay tribute to Art Linkletter, who passed away earlier this year. Art was TV's original chronicler of kids saying the darndest things.

May we never forget to cherish children's words.


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Tom, thanks for sharing these sentiments from the students! Very sweet. It really does show that school bus drivers play a meaningful role in a child's school day.

Kimberly Mulcahy    |    Nov 18, 2010 02:34 PM

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