Springboro (Ohio) Schools bus driver Karen Borgemenke takes a shorter route to school due to...

Springboro (Ohio) Schools bus driver Karen Borgemenke takes a shorter route to school due to COVID-19 but uses the extra time to read to students.

Photo courtesy Scott Marshall, Springboro Schools

A bus driver for Springboro (Ohio) Schools is taking a shorter route to school due to COVID-19, but is using the extra time she previously would have spent driving to entertain students before they head into the classroom.

Karen Borgemenke is often one of the first to arrive at Clearcreek Elementary School with her students in the morning, according to a post on the Springboro Schools website. Being a few minutes early to school, according to the district, allows her to use that additional time to read to students on the bus before they start the school day.

“This particular school year, there are less students on the bus,” Borgemenke said in the post, in reference to some students choosing not to use the bus for transportation or choosing the district’s at-home learning model due to COVID-19. “With less students, my route is shorter, so rather than impact the parents’ schedules and adjust route times, I thought it would be nice to keep the same route times, get to school a few minutes early, and read to the kids with that extra time.”

To keep up with her reading schedule, Borgemenke will visit the Clearcreek Elementary School library every week to select books that interest the students, who are currently in kindergarten and first grade, according to the district. Once the bus arrives to the parking lot and parks, Borgemenke will stand towards the front of the bus, with the students remaining in their assigned seats, and read aloud to everyone.

“As a former teacher and now a parent, it means so much that [Karen] used that down time to show the kids literature, as well as to give their day a positive start,” said a parent of a student on Borgemenke’s bus.

“The students all seem to really enjoy it. It’s a great use of time, and I like the idea of getting to know my students more, and for my students to know their bus driver more,” Borgemenke added. 

Borgemenke was recently awarded the Clearcreek Elementary School “Positive Panther Award,” according to the district.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award but I am no different than the other Springboro family members of faculty, administrators, board members, transportation personnel, and staff,” Borgemenke said in a comment responding to a post about her efforts on Springboro Schools Facebook page. “We all prioritize the safety and education of our kids above all else as we continue to serve our community to our full potential.”

In addition to her duties as a bus driver, Borgemenke serves as a FIRST LEGO League Robotics Coach for students at Clearcreek Elementary School. FIRST LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math to students through hands-on learning, according to the district's post.