BRECKSVILLE, Ohio — A longtime school bus driver here has published a book that details his experiences and those of his fellow drivers behind the wheel and includes pupil transportation lessons and tips.
In “Driven to Learn,” author Albin J. Weiler not only shares stories based on his experiences driving a school bus over 19 years, but also outlines the significant responsibilities that drivers must handle daily, including pre-trips, concentrating on the road, and making student safety their top priority. Weiler covers topics such as behavior management, working effectively with colleagues, driving in inclement weather, and training students on school bus safety.
Narrating the book is a school bus driver named “Mr. W,” who tells stories that illustrate lessons learned such as “Distractions Can Be Dangerous.” That particular story, which describes how a student re-entered the danger zone and fell backward when he tried to move away from the bus (the student ended up being OK) had the biggest impact on him, Weiler told School Bus Fleet.
“I am reminded each day of the concentration that I am required to maintain as students depart and board my bus,” said Weiler, who currently drives for Petermann Bus serving Nordonia Hills City School District in Ohio.
Alongside the story, he placed a breakdown of an acrostic using the word FOCUS (Free your mind of distractions, Observe your surroundings, Concentrate on the task at hand, Utilize safe work methods, and Stay away from shortcuts).
Weiler’s goal in writing the book, he said, is to help give people a better understanding and respect for the extraordinary responsibilities school bus drivers have in safely transporting students. He also hopes to make the public aware of the substantial impact school bus drivers have on students.
“In our schools, much of the credit goes to teachers and building staff for what they do for students,” Weiler said. “I feel that my book does a great job at highlighting the contributions that school bus drivers make and how they are the first and last experience that students and families have in a school day.”
As he researched and wrote the book, Weiler used his own journal entries on his experiences and collected stories from other drivers. While digging into the anecdotes and accounts of his coworkers, he realized the great level of dedication and concern for students they all shared.
“[Drivers] see their work as a commitment to protect and safely transport their students while getting to know them as individuals,” Weiler added.
Through those accounts, his eyes were also opened to the commonality of experiences all drivers share when transporting students, and to the fact that children from all backgrounds have similar characteristics and behavior.
Most importantly, though, “They all want to be respected and cared for in the short time that I, as a driver, begin and end their school day,” Weiler said.
Growing the book from a seed of an idea to publication took quite some time. Weiler started thinking about writing a book in the voice of a school bus driver in Georgia (where he used to live) in 2003.
“I dismissed it at first, but it kept surfacing as I continued driving,” Weiler recalled.
Then, more than a decade later, in 2016, with persistent encouragement from his coworkers, he committed to working on a manuscript after work and between his morning and afternoon runs and enlisted the help of editors and publishers.
“Driven to Learn” was completed in April 2019, on Weiler’s 74th birthday. However, he has found that his students “keep me young at heart as they share their stories of school and home experiences.”
When asked how he feels about getting his book published, he expressed satisfaction at having answered a call from his peers.
“I feel that I have fulfilled the urging of several of my fellow drivers in Georgia and Ohio who encouraged me to write a book about driving experiences.”
Paperback copies of “Driven to Learn” are available from Weiler for a donation of $15.00 to charities UNICEF or Catholic Relief Services and $3.00 for mailing costs. (A limited number of hardback copies are available.) Weiler can be contacted with orders at firstname.lastname@example.org.