I am a middle-school teacher for the Greater Clark County School Corporation in southern Indiana. Six years ago, I was asked by the principal to act as the liaison between the school and its bus drivers. Specifically, I was asked to work with the discipline problems that the drivers were experiencing. I was allotted one period a day to interact with drivers, students and parents and to make the necessary connections within our school system to ensure due process. Although I had ridden a school bus as a child and had served with a National Guard unit that provided security for a school system during desegregation, I had no other qualifications for the job. And, if anything, I had a classroom teacher’s superficial understanding of what bus drivers were going through. I suppose the phrase, “It’s not my problem,” summed up my “empathy” for the people I’d been asked to assist.
A new appreciation evolves
Six years have gone by, and my views have changed substantially. I now realize how important school bus drivers are to the total school picture. I’m also acutely aware of what they provide the school beyond the important task of transporting students. Here’s a list of my observations:
Drivers cannot be ignored
I now realize that a whole other world of professionalism, pride and commitment exists among my school’s bus drivers. Each adult who connects to the school changes the chemistry in some way. If my school is to be truly open to that reality, it must make a sincere effort to perceive and portray school bus drivers as partners in the process of shaping who our students become.
Ken Miller teaches at a middle school in Jeffersonville, Ind.