Being on the roads, ensuring students are brought to school safely and arrive home just the same is an immeasurable part of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).
May 1 is Bus Driver Appreciation Day and WCPS knows that its bus drivers are that crucial first contact with many students and a vital part of the school day for students, families and schools.
Larry Beeds has been driving for WCPS for more than 30 years. He said his wife drove back in the ’80s and spare driving for her route is what got him started.
“I had to go get my license and it started from there, since the ’80s,” said Beeds. “I find the biggest reward is that the kids still know you years later.”
Beeds said the job has its responsibilities, but being able to get children to school and home safely is a big reward. He said because you are part of the start of their day, it’s important to be ready to greet them as they get on the bus.
“I think it is a good thing to say good morning to each and every one of them. If you get it back that’s great, if not that is fine too. You never know what is going on in their little minds, and it is important to at least say good morning,” he said.
That is echoed by Jolynn Pugh, who has been a spare driver for more than two years.
“You always want to start the day off right; always say ‘good morning’ to each kid who gets on and say ‘have a good evening’ or ‘have a good weekend’ at night,” said Pugh. She started driving because, as a spare driver and stay-at-home parent, it has offered her a flexible work schedule for her family to raise their two kids and brings in a little extra income.
“There are even times where I get to drive for my kids field trips, so I get to attend their field trips and I’m getting paid for it,” she said. “Instead of being a parent helper, I’m a parent helper but am getting paid as the bus driver as well. That was one of the biggest things for me.”
Beeds, who has worked in the oilfield and as a bakery manager believes more people should look into being a school bus driver.
“I don’t see why more folks who are seniors or retired don’t drive bus. If they can and are available, why not?” he said. “You work maybe an hour and half in the morning, and an hour and half at night. You are home every weekend, you get the whole summer off. I think it’s a fantastic job.”
WCPS bus more than 4,100 students, which is 51 per cent of the school division’s population, over a distance of 40,000 kms per year. The division has more than 70 in-house urban and rural routes, eight contracted routes, and nine contracted special education routes.
On Bus Driver Appreciation Day, WCPS would like to extend its sincere and heartfelt thank you to all the bus drivers and transportation staff in WCPS that make this critical role work so well.
"Wolf Creek is incredibly fortunate to have dedicated, caring bus drivers providing a safe journey to our schools each and every day," said Jayson Lovell, superintendent.
WCPS offers free Class 2 and Mandatory Entry Level Training for new drivers. For more information on becoming a spare or full time bus driver, please contact WCPS at 403.783.3473.