VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A school bus driver who transported students with special needs for the last 30 years has retired, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Kathleen Denton initially started working in school transportation so she could spend more time with her children, but continued to drive after her children grew up, according to the newspaper. Denton started as a bus assistant in 1987, in part for her son David, who didn’t walk until he was about 5 years old. She soon realized she enjoyed working with other children, too, and worked hard to learn ways to help them. She brought books for students who struggled with language, or would try to get them to repeat words, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Naomi Lane, who has worked as an assistant on Denton’s bus, told the newspaper that Denton’s warm nature has made her feel more like a family member than a coworker. A mother of twins with Down syndrome told The Virginian-Pilot that her daughters have enjoyed the holiday and birthday gifts Denton has given them, and that she has appreciated Denton’s kind, patient nature.

Denton retired on June 16, which was the last day of classes for many students in the area. She plans to spend more time at the plant nursery she runs with her husband and will be able to see her grandchildren more often, according to the newspaper.

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