Pupil transportation operations and associations around the country are showing their appreciation for school bus drivers and recognizing the important role that yellow buses play in students’ education with “Love the Bus” celebrations this month.
The Love the Bus program was founded in 2007 by the American School Bus Council (ASBC). Events in support of the program are held on Valentine’s Day and throughout February each year.
In Alabama, Love the Bus celebrations started early, with Transportation South in Pelham honoring bus drivers on Feb. 4. The dealership honored the state’s best drivers, as voted by the students, parents and teachers they serve. Douglas Ray Edward of Madison County Schools in Huntsville, Ala., was named the 2014 Alabama Love the Bus Driver of the Year.
Bucky Law, president of Transportation South, said, “School bus drivers play a critical role in the lives and education of the nation’s students, and the ‘Love the Bus’ program is a fun way for us to recognize their dedication."
Also during the event, guests were treated to a barbecue lunch and cake while hearing from Alabama’s state director of pupil transportation, Joe Lightsey, who spoke about the incredible track record of the school bus industry as a whole and within the state of Alabama.
On Wednesday, the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation hosted one of three of the state’s Love the Bus celebrations at the Loudoun County Public Schools administrative offices in Ashburn.
Officials said that during the event, state and national representatives shared their stories of affection for pupil transportation as well as the challenges involved in the task of safely carrying Virginia’s schoolchildren to and from school each day. Love the Bus-themed artwork from schoolchildren was on display, and the Briar Woods High School band was the featured entertainment.
Those in attendance also had the opportunity to step aboard several school buses to see firsthand the technological features that make the school bus the safest mode of ground transportation for shuttling students to and from school.
North Carolina’s Iredell-Statesville Schools has gotten into the Love the Bus spirit this week, with a couple of initiatives in place to show support for the district’s school bus drivers. Statesville Record & Landmark reports that Superintendent Brady Johnson took over the bus routes for an elementary school on Tuesday in an effort to raise awareness of the work done by the district’s bus drivers.
The district has also created a mystery gift-giver known as the “Undercover School Bus Lover," according to the newspaper. The gift-giver has been leaving anonymous thank-you gifts in school buses for the drivers, from doughnuts to chocolate to flowers.
Houston Independent School District's transportation department began recognizing Love the Bus month in 2011. Past activities included thank-you messages on campus marquees for transportation employees, and Mayor Annise Parker lighting the downtown Houston City Hall building in yellow in honor of the district's transportation department.
This year, the transportation leadership team served pancakes and sausage to more than 1,300 transportation employees to celebrate the work that is done to safely transport children to and from school. Each employee also received a Valentine card, with candy.
“I am so excited to be part of an incredible team that works so hard to safely transport our children every day," Houston Independent School District Transportation Operations Manager Chester Glaude said.
On Feb. 21, the ASBC will hold its annual Love the Bus event at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C. Schoolchildren and several government officials are among those scheduled to attend, including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Officials said Foxx will share the stage with Oak Hill first-graders who will perform a fun interpretation of the classic children’s book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and a group of fourth- and fifth-graders will perform a song on their recorders.
Check out this photo gallery from 2013 Love the Bus festivities.