Bill Lehman is a school bus driver for Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District #95. In this five-part series, he shares his longtime desire to become a bus driver and the path that brought him to the industry.
In this segment of the series, Lehman writes about his first experiences on a school bus as a student.
When beginning to attend school, you get your first true role model, and mine was a school bus driver named Russ Taylor.
On my first day of kindergarten in 1966, my parents walked me out to the bus stop in front of our home. Because we lived far from town, our school bus had students ages 5 to 18.
When the bus stopped in front of our house and the doors opened, I was very scared getting on a large yellow bus. Russ looked at me and smiled and asked, “Your first day of school?” I was so nervous all I could do was nod my head. He said, “Hi, my name is Russ. Come onto my bus; I have a special seat right behind mine.” I went up the steps and sat right behind him.
On the way to school, he talked to me about how a school bus worked. I still remember clearly him telling me that the bus he was driving was a 1958 Superior Coach, with a Chevrolet engine. Before I knew it, we were at my school, and he made a point to shake my hand, told me what my bus number was and said that he would see me at the end of the day.
At the beginning of the second grade, Russ told me how excited he was, as the school district was giving him a new school bus. It was a Thomas [Built Buses] bus with a Ford engine. After riding on the other, old bus, I was as excited as he was, and he arranged with my parents and the school to pick me up since the bus yard was right next to the school.
I was the first student to step foot on the bus, and Russ even allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat and open and close the doors. I knew then that someday I wanted to drive one of those yellow and black buses.
Russ would be my bus driver for a total of five years before he retired. I remember the Junction City, Ore., school district presented him with an award for driving all the children safely on that route for many years. Mom made sure I had a card to give to him, along with some cupcakes she had made, to say thank you. He was truly touched and told my parents that I was one of his favorite students to ride his bus.
Part 2 of Lehman's article is now available here.