BEDFORD, Va. — At 75 years old, James Bryant has spent the majority of his life driving a school bus, and he’s thoroughly enjoyed it, with no plans to retire anytime soon.
Bryant, who works for Bedford County Public Schools, started his career in 1959 and hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the job.
“I enjoy getting out in the morning, starting up the bus and making sure it’s warm for the children,” he told SBF. “I love children — I love to greet them and say goodbye as they leave. I look forward to that every day.”
Bryant said that although children have changed since he started in this profession, he has never had major problems with student discipline, and he said he never writes referrals.
He attributes this to treating students with respect. “If you do that, you will get respect,” he said.
He also takes seriously his role in transporting students to and from school safely.
“It’s a big responsibility — parents are trusting you with their children,” he said. “I’m very proud to have been a bus driver for 54 years and to still be driving. I look at it as a great opportunity — I’m driving someone’s child to school so that they can get an education.”
Bryant’s attitude and his relationship with students and the support he receives from their parents impresses Transportation Coordinator Pat Whorley, who has worked with Bryant since she started at the district in 1986 as a secretary in the transportation department.
“The most endearing part is that the kids know he cares about them, and they care about him,” she told SBF, adding that Bryant is well-liked and respected by everyone in the transportation department, and he’s always willing to share what’s worked and hasn’t worked for him.
Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch also speaks highly of Bryant.
“He’s genuinely invested in seeing every child succeed, and it really makes a difference in the lives of those students,” he told SBF. “He has a gift for maintaining authority and solid, positive behavior on his bus without compromising being nice and warm toward the students, which I think is amazing.”
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