CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — After nearly 24 years at the wheel of a yellow bus, John Horton is ready to hang up his keys.
The veteran school bus driver and School Bus Fleet contributor said that he will retire on Feb. 1 with many rewarding experiences, and a few frustrations, under his belt.
As a school bus driver, Horton has shuttled scores of Colorado students and helped train other drivers. Meanwhile, his photography skills have been on display across the pupil transportation industry — his photos have illustrated many SBF articles.
While Horton’s talents have made a significant impact in the yellow bus world, his original calling was in church ministry. He founded and began pastoring a church while working as a public school teacher to make a living. When his teaching certificate expired, he couldn’t afford to take the necessary classes to renew it, and he needed additional income.
In 1992, Horton signed on as a school bus driver at Cherry Creek School District in Aurora, just outside of Denver. Two years later, he ventured south to Douglas County School District in Castle Rock, where he has spent the bulk of his pupil transportation career.
Horton said that his schedule as a school bus driver fit well with his duties as a pastor — a role in which he continues to serve.
“Working split-shift allowed me to be in my office and take care of ministry and errands during the day," he said.
The highlights of the yellow bus job for Horton have been working with students, parents (most of them, anyway) and his peers. But he looks back less fondly on many of the bosses he has worked for over the years.
“For the most part, they came and went every couple of years, they were in over their heads, and it was obvious,” Horton said. “They didn't learn from their mistakes, and didn't want to. They didn't want to improve, and eventually it bit them in the backside.”
Still, the job has been “a useful and impressive learning experience,” Horton said, and it has yielded many good memories, strong friendships and amusing anecdotes. He also maintained an impressive school bus driving record, with no at-fault accidents (although his bus was hit by a motorist who ran a red light last year).
In addition to his driving duties, Horton got involved in training efforts, taught a couple of classes at state workshops and served on multiple district committees.
“I did what I could to improve things … helped many peers and students, formed lasting friendships, and am the possessor of many fond memories,” Horton said. “All in all, it has been an adventure.”