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February 01, 2008  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Spreading goodwill, good news

by Thomas McMahon, Executive Editor


As we at SCHOOL BUS FLEET search the Web each day to see what the nation’s media outlets have to report about school buses, the articles on “bad news” usually outnumbers those on “good news”:

“Two in car killed in crash with bus.”
“Teen charged in school bus stop shooting.”
“Kindergartner left on bus for three hours.”

And so on.

Of course, those of us involved in the pupil transportation industry know that there’s far more good happening than there is bad. On a typical school day, more than 25 million children across the U.S. are safely shuttled to and from school without incident. Behind the wheel are hundreds of thousands of drivers who are deeply dedicated to their precious cargo.

The unfortunate reality is that the rare slip-ups and unavoidable encounters tend to attract the most media attention.

That’s why it was refreshing this past holiday season to see an abundance of stories that put the spotlight on good deeds being done by pupil transporters.

Season of giving
Here are some of the uplifting articles we came across:

In Lancaster, Calif., the Antelope Valley Press reported on a school bus driver, DaSchell Brice Chastang, who helped make life easier for one of her passengers and his family.

When he boarded the bus each morning, 12-year-old Roberto Mendoza’s mother had to carry him in his wheelchair down the steps in front of their home. Chastang spearheaded a drive to raise money for and build a ramp that Roberto could use in his wheelchair.

In Indiana, the Bluffton News-Banner wrote about a school bus driver, Marie Masterson, who made more than 80 twin bed-size quilts to give to her passengers, co-workers, friends and family.

The idea came to Masterson last summer, and although she had no experience in quilt construction, she learned to use her late grandmother’s sewing machine and got to work.

In Ohio, the Springfield News-Sun did a story on staff members of the local school district’s transportation department who are donating their time and money to buy coats for passengers who need them.

When bus drivers notice children not wearing a coat in the cold, they contact school principals to find out whether the children are in need. The group has raised thousands of dollars through potlucks, garage sales and other fundraisers.

Don’t be shy
If there’s something positive happening at your school bus operation that you think the public would like to know about, contact your local news station or paper. They just might give your good news the coverage it deserves.

Your community should be glad to hear about it, and your staff will surely be grateful for the recognition.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to pass these stories along to us as well. We do report all kinds of news — good, bad, neutral — in order to stay balanced. But we take considerable pleasure in spreading the industry’s successes.

Transporting students safely would seem to be enough of an accomplishment. Some people just go above and beyond the call of duty.


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