WARRENTON, Va. — Lois King started driving a school bus for Fauquier County Public Schools in 1960, the year when President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act and the U.S. launched its first weather satellite.
Fifty-five years later, King is still shuttling students in the same school district. The soon-to-be 80-year-old transports teenagers to and from Fauquier High School each school day.
Reflecting on more than half a century of driving a school bus, King said that she has seen a lot of changes during her career.
“The biggest one is the discipline,” she said. “Young people actually want and need discipline.”
As acceptable forms of discipline have morphed over the years, King has found a strategy that works for her.
“I keep them on the bus and give them a little talking to — not scolding,” she said, “but one-on-one talking, like, ‘You’re older than this kind of behavior.’ From then on they get on the bus and say, ‘Good morning, Ms. King,’ and, ‘Bye, Ms. King.’ I thought, ‘This is what kids want — someone to care enough about them to tell them they’ve done something wrong.’”
What led her to start driving a school bus?
In a word, “money,” she said, “and because at that time I had one or two kids. I had seven kids altogether. … I figured, ‘Okay, I can take my kids with me; I don’t need a babysitter.’”
What began as a job of convenience became a job she enjoyed and a routine that works well for her. King plans other activities of the day around her bus runs, like tending to her herd of Black Angus cattle, making hay and “tractoring,” as she calls it.
At the Fauquier County Public Schools transportation department’s awards program on May 20, King was honored for her 55 years behind the wheel. School board members were on hand to recognize King and to present her with a gift to help her relax (not retire): a rocking chair.
Fauquier Director of Transportation Cheryl Fisher praised King for her reliability and her longevity.
“She rarely misses work; occasionally she takes an afternoon off when she has to make hay on the farm,” Fisher said. “We all really want to see her hit 60 years.”
King said that she doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
“I tend, when I get a hold of something, to keep on doing it,” she said. “I don’t plan to quit. I’m feeling pretty good.”