JOHNSTON, Iowa — When she hung up her keys after 30 years of driving school buses, Charlene Beaderstadt’s retirement didn’t last long: Four months later, she was back on a yellow bus.
For her second act, Beaderstadt took on the position of bus associate for special-needs routes. Now, with 17 years in that role, she has worked for the transportation department at Johnston Community School District for 47 years.
Beaderstadt recently reflected on her career in a profile on the district’s website.
When she started as a school bus driver, her route was about four blocks long, which was the entire length of the city.
“I picked up the whole town,” she said. “We had a total of six buses and two schools. Things were a lot different.”
In her current job as a bus associate, Beaderstadt gets students seated safely, secures wheelchairs and monitors any health issues that may come up.
She has formed bonds with many students in her 47-year career, including a deaf student with whom she communicated by writing messages back and forth. That young man stopped by to see her a few years ago.
“The kids call me Grandma, and that’s sweet,” Beaderstadt said. “I enjoy being around the other drivers and working with the kids.”
She noted that she hopes to make it to 50 years before retiring for good. To read more about her career, see the Johnston Community School District’s profile of Beaderstadt.