A student’s first ride on the school bus is often accompanied by a range of emotions, from feelings of uncertainty to excitement, and school bus drivers are there every step of the way.
Robert Tippie, a former school bus driver and current transportation coordinator for Buckeye (Ariz.) Elementary School District #33, recently recalled a time when he helped one of his kindergarten students overcome his fear of riding the bus.
Tippie told School Bus Fleet that he had gifted the student his lucky coin — a nickel he had found on the bus that morning — as a promise to keep him safe while transporting him to and from school every day. Tippie's only condition was that the student had to return the coin to him once he felt like he didn’t need it anymore to ride the bus.
Nearly eight years later, the student and his mother came back to the student’s bus stop with the lucky coin and a poem thanking Tippie for ensuring he had a smooth, safe first ride on the bus and each time thereafter.
“For me, [receiving the poem] was very moving because I actually made a difference,” Tippie said. “I know I’ve made a difference plenty of times, but this one was very special because he gave me my coin back, and now it’s on a wall in my office.”
Each time Tippie trains a new driver for Buckeye Elementary School District #33, he shows them the poem on his wall, reminding them of the reason they’re joining the school transportation industry — to make a positive impact on students.
“Some days are bad, and some days are good, but if you can make a difference, it means everything in the world,” Tippie said.
Even though he only drives the bus when the district is short-staffed, Tippie said he continues to make an impact through the drivers he trains.
The student’s poem is published in full below.
I got a nickel long ago
By someone special, we all know
He keeps us safe from home to school
Safety 1 — his golden rule
8 years ago the bus I took
My backpack, pencil and my book.
The bus was big and scary to ride
My mom said to school — I could not hide.
Mr. Tippie was the bus drivers’ name
He knew I was scared, he said, “let’s play a game!”
I took my first step on bus #6
With my nickel in hand, it was sure a quick fix.
A nickel for luck for our ride everyday
Keep holding on tight and we were on our way.
8 years have gone by and I graduate at last
I’ll never forget the great years gone past.
Two in a seat on our drivers run
Except me alone — I was #1.
Right behind Mr. Tippie I sat every day
Talking and laughing in our own special way.
So thank you Mr. Tippie for all the safe rides
I held on to that nickel with the greatest of pride.
The nickel is yours back to pass on to others,
To help school bus rides feel safe for children and their mothers.