Bus assistant reflects on 42-year career at Arizona district

Kelly Aguinaldo
Posted on December 17, 2013
At 82 years old, Sarah Guilford, a part-time bus assistant for Washington Elementary School District #6 in Phoenix, has no plans to retire anytime soon.

At 82 years old, Sarah Guilford, a part-time bus assistant for Washington Elementary School District #6 in Phoenix, has no plans to retire anytime soon.

PHOENIX — Sarah Guilford has worked at Washington Elementary School District #6 for 42 years, and at 82 years old, she has no plans to retire — a testament to how much she loves her job.

Guilford started out working at one of the district’s school cafeterias part time. After three years, she learned that the district was beginning to hire female school bus drivers, so she applied and was hired.   

“I drove for 25 years, never had an accident, and I've never had a problem with the people I’ve worked with,” Guilford, who currently works part time as a bus assistant, told SBF. “Now, I go out on the bus as an assistant when needed. It’s quite interesting — you get quite an education from the kids because they tell you so much.”  

Guilford said a lot has changed in the pupil transportation industry, particularly in terms of technology. She recalled that when she began driving school buses, they weren’t automatic, they didn’t have air conditioning and they weren’t equipped with video surveillance cameras or two-way radios.

Two-way radios, in particular, are a big improvement of today’s school buses, according to Guilford.

“If we broke down, we had to wait for someone to come along and help us,” she explained. “Now, we can radio in for anything we need help with. It’s something we needed when I started!”

Most of Guilford’s memories with students are pleasant. She recalled a recent incident when she served as an aide on one of the district’s buses.

“I rode the bus and started talking to a student who could have potentially been a big problem [because of his behavior],” she explained. “But as he got off the bus, he shook my hand and he said, ‘Thank you for listening to me.’ All these kids want is somebody to listen to them. I have a lot of sympathy for some of these kids because of their home life, and I have a lot of compassion for kids.”

This compassion and her passion for her job drive Guilford to continue working.

“I think it’s very good to stay active, and I enjoy the kids, the principals, the parents and the people I work with,” she said.

Antonio Mlynek, transportation supervisor for special education, speaks highly of Guilford.  

“Sarah is well known throughout the department for her compassion and positive energy,” he told SBF. “She is always courteous and helpful to others and is truly one of a kind!”  

Related Topics: aide/monitor, Arizona

Comments ( 2 )
  • Christine Schmidt

     | about 4 years ago

    This is a wonderful story about my mother, Sarah Guilford. She is a great mom and deserves to be recognized for all of her years of hard work. She has inspired so many people and I'm so proud of her.

  • See all comments
More Stories

Great Ideas Abound on the Bus

Great ideas come in many forms. What all of these innovations have in common is that they promote the role of school buses in student achievement.


School Bus Driver Teaches Students to Fish

Gary Kelmer of New Jersey invites students he transports to a local pond on spring break to teach them how to fish and get them to spend time outdoors. He has offered the activity for over 20 years.


VIDEO: School Bus Danger Zone Awareness

This dramatization from Georgia, based on a true story, teaches students about safely boarding and exiting the school bus — including what to do if they drop something.

Two bills that are intended to address school bus safety in the wake of a fatal crash in November have advanced in the Tennessee House of Representatives. One would raise the minimum age for new school bus drivers, and the other would require "a restraint system" on school buses.

Tennessee School Bus Bills Advance

A bill that would raise the minimum age for new school bus drivers in the state passes unanimously in the House. Another bill that would require restraints on school buses passes a committee vote.

Planning has begun for the 17th National Congress on School Transportation (NCST) in 2020. Murrell Martin and Bill Loshbough are shown here leading a discussion at NCST 2015.

NCST 2020 Planning Begins

Planning for the 17th National Congress on School Transportation is now in the works, with committee members being re-established and selected through this summer.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!