Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing Everyone....

A happy holiday, merry christmas, happy new year, etc etc. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday break from the insanity of education.

Friday was interesting. After a rocky morning, the afternoon had very little kids on my bus and most of them were just excited about the upcoming break. So, I decided to relax a little and play Christmas music. Until then!!

Snowed In,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!!!

The last 3 days before vacation were much better. The high school had finals the last three days of the week, so I only ended up hauling 1-3 out of my normal 15-20 group of highschoolers home on the bus. My second group was only my 4th and 5th graders (the kids who ask incessant questions). I do 2 and a half runs in the afternoon to get all my kids home. Because they were exceptionally good for each of the 3 days, I allowed them to talk quietly once we got to the high school.

My 4th and 5th graders are usually expected to stay quiet because of the unnecessary squabbles that my kids typically get into while on the bus. They tend to take neighborhood issues and bring them on the bus creating tension and problems. The problems create unnecessary stress on me so I usually head it off at the beginning and tell them not to bring the issues on the bus and as such, they are not allowed to talk on the bus. They are pretty much a good group of kids, but they DO push buttons and they know exactly which buttons to push. I fear that because I loosened up slightly that it will backfire on me. I understand that they were excited about Christmas.

I have discovered that my highschoolers are my main problem and issue. They act like thugs and are very disrespectful. The last 3 days before vacation have opened my eyes to this especially since I did not have most of them on the bus. The bus had a different atmosphere. I was able to relax a little bit and instead of buying my kids anything for Christmas, I played Christmas music for my younger group of kids and then with my 4th and 5th graders I let them choose their seats (they have assigned seats) and played Christmas music.

The morning route has become interesting though since I have a new alternative student who just started riding. Alternative Girl is a piece of work and has a “cousin” on the bus that is one of my 4th and 5th graders. Well Alternative Girl insisted on talking and breaking the rules, so I asked her to come up front and sit down, she pitched a hissy fit and insisted on getting off at the wrong school and mouthed off to an administrator and mouthed off to me claiming I was only picking on her and not handling the other kids on the bus and that I was lying. She tried to get my other kids involved in it but I was so proud of them when they just stayed quiet and didn’t give her the reaction she was looking for. She told me to let her off the bus “before it gets ugly.” Yeah, I just LOVE threats from students. Her behavior is similar to the behavior of the kids I used to work with 4 years ago and it nearly triggered me into a panic attack. I’ll explain it in another blog. I kept my cool though and just let it roll off my shoulders. The rest of the bus was quiet and once she got off, her “cousin” started in on it and I told her to hush her mouth. She started to smart off at me and I stopped her in her tracks. The cousin was sleeping through most of it until Alternative Girl woke her up. As some of my 4th and 5th graders got off, I kept notes on who I kept having to tell to be quiet and told each of those they were getting a write up. I’ll turn them in after break because I couldn’t get the tape pulled until that afternoon. The sad thing is, if Alternative Girl had just done what I had asked in the first place, she wouldn’t even be getting a write up. The reason that her and her cousin are getting a write up is not for talking and even breaking the rules, but for the disrespect they displayed when riding the bus.

Glad its Christmas Break,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it Christmas Break yet?

Three more days left and my kids are pushing me to the limit on the bus. I’m sick and tired of the incessant questions. The answer to most of these questions is a typical flat “No” followed by “Be quiet and sit properly in the seats.” I understand that many of them are anxious for Christmas, heck, I am too but when idiots come out in droves during the holidays, driving becomes a chore and not a pleasure. Combine that with my high school kids acting like thugs and my middleschoolers driving me up a wall and you've got one exasperated bus driver.

I cannot have a back and forth conversation with 15+ children at once because of the idiot who cuts me off, the idiot that tailgates me and the idiots I work with who relentlessly tie up the CB Radio with useless banter, and stupid questions like “Bus Base to Bus D - Do you have Little Johnny on the bus? Bus F to Bus Base - What do I do with Little Amy who cussed me out? We’re still looking for Little Johnny. How do you spell that child’s name? A M Y…. What were the last 2 letters of her name? A M Y….. What I didn’t hear that, you were walked all over by … Little Johnny’s mom says the bus has/hasn’t gone by and Little Johnny has to get home as quickly as possible even though your only 1 road/1 stop/arriving at/or Johnny didn’t get on the bus to go HOME!!! Everybody check to see if Little Johnny got on your bus. School A to Bus Base and Bus D we found Little Johnny.”

If that sounded confusing, that’s what happens DAILY on the bus CB Radio. It’s incessant and annoying and continually blaring in my ear. Some days and weeks are better than others, but there is a time at least once a month where everyone seems to take their stupid pills all at once. I don’t dare mute it or turn it off because its likely the Bus Base will need to get a hold of me the second I do! The “clicks” are from inconsiderate bus drivers who click the radio while people are talking about important things because they have nothing better to do.

In other news, while I was out, I began to get reports of what happened while I was gone. A fellow bus driver’s 8-year-old son had one of my high school boys use a belt on him. Another bus driver ran into a telephone pole, and then claimed she couldn’t see it. To make matters worse, she didn’t report it to the proper authorities, and the only way the bus shop knew about it was because a parent told ME when I came back what had happened. I had noticed the stop sign leaning/crushed into the pole and had wondered what happened. That same bus driver cannot seem to follow directions and cannot handle a bus at all. Just today she reportedly let a busload of kids off along a busy highway/street with no regards to safety. Those kids were seen walking along the side of the road and were called in by a concerned motorist. She’s going to get a child killed if my boss doesn’t grow a pair and fire her for her irresponsible behavior.

I have kids on the bus this year who are expecting me to do something nice for Christmas (bags of candy and such) but my bus has had some very poor behavior that none of the kids deserve ANYTHING. Every time I’ve tried to implement some form of reward, they take advantage of it and it usually lands me more frustrated than when I started. So many kids on my bus have come to expect that the bus driver will be nice and hand out candy canes or something. The truth is, if the kids ask every day, then continually break the rules, cause a problem or otherwise get on my nerves, I’m sure as heck NOT going to spend MY paycheck on stuff for them. Sorry, not happening! I know I sound like a humbug, but I’m fed up with it!

I made a huge decision this week after much deliberation. I took this route on the condition that it would be a pay increase for me. We currently get a base salary and then have mileage added onto that at 15 cents a mile. As a floater (someone who bounces from bus to bus as a full time, full benefit substitute), I would get 52 miles a day in addition to my base pay. I was told that this bus was 81 miles a day, a definite increase. When I inherited the bus, the original driver left me with nothing. No names of the kids, no addresses, no emergency contacts for the kids, absolutely NOTHING. It took me nearly a month to acquire all this information from the kids, begging and pleading on my knees for them to bring back the student information sheets, tedious hours putting it all in a spreadsheet for easy organization, the works! It occurred to me that the mileage might be inaccurate, so I re-did the mileage and came out with 52 miles.

This mileage began AT the bus shop, and ended AT the bus shop, with no “in-between” runs. In-between runs such as Middays, Field trips, and other runs were not counted. We are technically supposed to do mileage from our first stop in the morning to our last drop off in the morning, then from our first pick up in the afternoon to our last stop in the afternoon. If I had done it that way, then the mileage would be even less, because during the morning and afternoon run, I have approximately 8 miles that are “empty bus” miles. 2 miles to my first stop in the morning, 2 miles back to the bus shop in the morning, 2 miles to my first pick up in the afternoon, 2 miles back to the bus shop at the end of the day after my last stop. In actuality, the bus should only be approximately 44 miles, and I should be LOSING money from mileage. Because of this actuality, and that we have a new computerized mileage system (so drivers can’t lie and pad their paychecks with false miles) I have decided to give up the route and become a “floater” again.

I discussed this with my boss today and he is fully supportive, however I do feel bad for the kids. They don’t deserve to be bounced either. At this point, I have got to do what is best for me. This job is my only source of income at this point, and I’ve got to look out for myself.

Conflicted and Exhausted,

The Bus Driver

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Madness and Insanity

Well, I have definitely neglected this blog since Thanksgiving, but my schedule has just been filled with insanity.

First, I traveled up to Indiana to testify in a court case (guilty!), then returned to a myriad of doctor appointments and random field trips that take up most of my weekend time. I also babysit for a friend of mine on the nights she goes to work her second job until her husband comes home (approx 1 hr or so) so that has been keeping me very busy. So, that being said, I simply haven't had time to sit at the computer all that much and catch up on my regular blog reads.

The doctor appointments were successful in that both doctors (a foot doctor and an ear, nose, throat doctor) identified reasons for my suffering. (I have constant foot pain and sinus infections.) Turns out, I have heel spurs on both feet, with one being worse than the other. Luckily we caught the heel spurs early enough for proper intervention to fix the problem. I'll be getting custom made orthotics and I'm in a foot brace during the day (till the orthotics come in) and a night splint at night. My sinus problems are being caused by my adenoids, so they possibly have to come out. Yay me.

On to more recent events. Today I drove a group of 4th graders to a local television station. The kids got a tour of the station which included the weather "green screen" and got to meet the various anchors of the news. I stayed outside with the bus, but soon needed to seek a bathroom. I caught the noon news just as it began to air. The kids still hadn't come out from their studio tour, so I figured they were probably behaving so well, that the studio had allowed them to watch the taping of the news. At the last 3 minutes of the news, the studio flashed the kids on the screen and they got to wave and say goodbye. The news anchor voiced over the picture and said "S Elementary from W. County, State is visiting us in studio today!! Wave goodbye kids!!" It was way cool considering that they don't typically do that with school groups. The teacher said that they were very well behaved so they earned that treat. The kids were so excited when they got back on the bus, and it was so unexpected that noone thought to record the news. I hope they are able to get a copy from the station or that someone's parent recorded the news.

Speaking of news, Alternative Boy got arrested at school for possession of Cocaine. He hasn't been on the bus since, but I've seen him wandering the neighborhood. I suspect he's been expelled or suspended from school.

Pipsqueak badly needs a seatbelt. For the life of me I cannot get that child to sit still in his seat. I have removed his backpack from him since he tends to go inside his backpack, then when its time for him to get off the bus, all of his stuff is falling out of his arms as he wanders up the aisle.

My middleschool kids are learning the hard way that I mean business. In the mornings, with the exception of 2-3 kids, I tell them what seat to sit in as they get on the bus. In the afternoons, with the exception of a handful of kids, I also tell them where to sit, though its slightly more difficult because I need my trouble makers up front and still have my little ones on the bus at the time.

I'm now having trouble out of my highschool group who has decided to take advantage of me. I'm beginning to think they need assigned seats as well. My second run is the worst as far as behavior problems go because my 4th and 5th graders like to talk back to me. I can't wait for Christmas.

The Wheels on the Bus......

The Bus Driver

Thursday, November 27, 2008

High-Life Adventure and Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read my blog. May your day be filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and all that comes with a delicious turkey dinner.

Now, on to the Overnight Trip.

I drove the High School FBLA members to their Fall Leadership Conference. The drive took approximately 5 hours one-way including stops for food and restroom breaks. When we arrived in the city where the Conference was being held, I navigated the 40-foot bus through the most narrow streets and places. It’s a wonder that I didn’t damage a mirror or any of the bus by pulling through some of the spots. I did end up taking out quite a few curbsides, but its better to hit the curb than to hit a vehicle.

We pulled into the hotel parking lot and unloaded the bus in the hopes our rooms were ready. The rooms were not ready yet, but the hotel graciously stored our luggage so we didn’t have to haul it from where the bus would later be parked. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, right across the street from the Conference Center. This Hilton offered a Dinner Grill and Room Service that included food made to order. The Breakfast Buffet was better than your standard continental breakfast and included eggs and omelets made to order as well as a large bar of fresh produce, cereal, and other standard items you would find in a continental breakfast. The prices for dinner were reasonable and breakfast was a standard $10.95 charge for the custom made plates. A large fitness center and swimming pool (puddle) were also available for guest convenience. The lobby contained a full service bar and near the guest check-in desk was a small pantry with a myriad of items available (for a price of course) to the weary traveler.

The hotel was located in the center of downtown with easy walking distance access to restaurants and stores. After we unloaded the bus, I was given vague instructions on where to park the monster. I circled the block once and found a very nice security guard lady who told me where to go. I was under the impression that we would be parking underneath the Convention Center and that when I would take the elevator, it would bring me directly up into the Convention building itself. I was also given the impression that it was a very large parking area, well marked and well lit. I eventually found the parking lot and paid 20 dollars (provided by the trip coordinator) for two days worth of parking. I swing the bus around and find the parking garage is pretty well packed with other buses and no one directing traffic. I managed to squeeze my bus between the brick wall (taking out the curbside) and another bus. I literally had approximately 5 inches of space available on either side. I figured if there were no space underneath the garage, I’d circle the block and come back for another pass. I get in the garage and there is very limited space, I pull over to evaluate the situation and find out that my rear-end is blocking one of the inner garage exit points. I decided that its probably not a good idea for me to keep on blocking an exit point and rather than risk a ticket, I pulled forward. I found a pretty decent parking space further down the line.

Now I had to find out where the elevator was. I saw some FBLA students from another county walking past my bus, and figured they knew where this fabled elevator was. I shut and locked my bus and walked in the direction they went. I found there was no elevator in that vicinity and ended up walking up the hill to figure out where I was. I saw a building and made my way towards it. I found the fabled elevator inside, only this elevator was not warm and cozy as I had expected, but it was a random elevator within a cold parking garage. About halfway up the hill, I realized I had forgotten my jacket, but since I didn’t want to hike back down the hill and back up again, I decided to keep on trucking. When I got inside the elevator, I rode it down and figured out where the elevator was located in relation to my bus. Then I rode it up to street level and walked the rest of the half-mile to the hotel in a short sleeve shirt in 35-degree weather.

I begged the concierge to let me get my sweatshirt out of my backpack that was stored with the rest of the luggage from the group. He graciously allowed me to do so. I then set in search of lunch. I found this quaint Japanese Sushi place just across the street from the hotel. After a meal of Sushi, I wandered back to the hotel in hopes that we would be checked into our rooms shortly. My friend from 7 years back was on her way to visit me at the hotel and I was hoping we wouldn’t have to visit in the lobby, but in the privacy of a hotel room. I got back just in time to pick up my luggage, room key, and I found my room. I got lucky and did not share a room with anybody else. In overnight trips, one may be expected to share with the kids, a chaperone, or be placed in an individual room. My room had a king size (very comfortable) bed, a mahogany desk, and a beautiful HD 30+ inch flat screen TV. (Yes!!! High-life here I come!!!) My friend made it and we visited and reminisced, then she left and I went in search of the pool and dinner. I discovered the pool was nothing more than a 3-foot deep puddle approximately the size of a 20 by 10 foot bedroom. Having nixed the pool idea, I ate dinner in the hotel lobby after contemplating whether or not to order room service. I slept on the most comfortable bed known to man!

The next day, I had to leave the high-life of a custom made omelet and retrieve the bus from the cold parking garage. Not wanting a repeat performance of yesterday’s parking garage fiasco, I inquired at the front desk about a shuttle to the lower parking garage. They graciously obliged and I retrieved the bus after a short panic worrying if it had been towed. We then toured around town and saw some of the historical sites. We went to the mall where we had a close call with a motorist (I can’t say much here for fear of being identified), and then drove down “frat house lane” on the college campus before we headed back to town. On the way back, we got stuck behind “Pokey Pappy” (the traditional old guy in a truck that refuses to speed or go the speed limit) for a while, but eventually made it back in one piece.

My next adventure takes me on a personal trip to Indiana where I have to testify in a court case Dec 1-3. Be watching for updates regarding that adventure.

Adventured Out!

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

i promise...

I havent forgotten the blog. I've been procrastinating writing lately. We are on thanksgiving break, and yeah.. excuses excuses. I will have a new blog for perusal and approval by the end of today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Note and Pipsqueak

The other day, I get this note from my 4th and 5th grade kids:

Dear Mrs. Bus Driver,

We all know you want us quiet, but you shouldn’t be so hard on us. We are just kids! Please, Please, just give us a reasonable and understanding talk with us.

All of 4th and 5th grade

I guess my being strict is having an effect on them. They’re in that stage where they are trying to get on my nerves and push the rules. I’m not budging on the rules. They know where I stand on the rules and I am not unreasonable in my demands. It’s because of their behavior that I cannot play the radio. They cannot respect even the smallest treat and I find it really sad because I would love to be able to have fun and joke around with them, but if I am not strict enough they will walk all over me. I just don’t know how to give them the incentive to do what I want them to do without bribing them. The kids on my first round are still having issues. Its time for another talk once the break is over. I am starting to get them warmed up to me though. It’s just a matter of keeping them under control. Some of my older babies made the honor roll and the paper listed their names. I’m so proud of them!

Speaking of little ones, I have a pre-k baby (Pipsqueak) that insisted on singing very LOUDLY for the whole bus to hear, and it kept cracking me up as well as all my middle schoolers who thought he was so adorable. Pipsqueak is aptly named, as his book bag is as big as HE is. He has been a true challenge, as is with any 4-year-old, he tends to stand up and play in the seat. We are working on his behavior in that regard. He is also cute when he gets off the bus, if he sees a car coming he WILL NOT enter the road until someone comes and gets him off the bus.

Alternative boy is now riding the bus again, God help me!

I’ll be leaving this Friday and coming back Saturday. I have an overnight field trip, which I hope will provide a wonderful anecdote or two for everyone.

Ready For A Vacation!

The Bus Driver

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nature, Fall, Alpacas, and the Mysterious Bead Thrower

On Friday, I took the pre-k on a field trip to a nature trail and then to an Alpaca farm. They went looking for Fall and Nature. Both went missing sometime on Thursday night. I am proud to say that the pre-k had successfully located both Fall and Nature somewhere along the trail. Leaves were taken as evidence, and gumshoes gathered mud and sand on the ground. The alpacas were cute. Did you know that male alpacas are the only ones that spit? Most of the pre-k kids were more interested in the friendly Dachshund and Jack Russell Terrier dogs that were permanent residents of the farm. Note to Self: Purchase wet wipes to be kept handy on the bus.

In other news, my cherubs and I had a wonderful “talk” on Friday afternoon. Though it was more like a cross between yelling and shouting. They had pushed me to the edge and I had enough. While waiting for the middle school to let out, I stood for about 5 minutes and lectured my pre-k through 3rd graders on their increasingly poor behavior on what was once a well-behaved bus. As I continued on my loud, commanding rant, a lot of the kids began to sit upright in the seat with their eyes wide as I continued to demand they sit down, sit back, and behave by not talking. I expounded that I’m repeating myself DAILY and should NOT have to do this. I gave them ALL a warning that should they decide to disobey, I WILL be speaking to their parents and failing that, they WILL be getting a write up. As my middle schoolers got on the bus, I lectured them and stopped them in their tracks. I made them sit where I decided. You could have heard a pin drop for the rest of the route.

Mysterious Bead Thrower threw a bead at another student, but it hit me instead. When I pulled the tape, I did not see who threw the bead on the tape, so until something else happens, the Bead Thrower will remain a mystery. I had a question from a parent who had been told by her son that I accused him of throwing a bead. I explained to her that I pulled the tape and that nothing was shown directly indicating him throwing the bead, but he was sitting in close proximity to the bead thrower and very well could have been the bead thrower as he was being his usual Goofy boy self. However since both boys questioned in the incident have not fessed up, Bead Thrower will remain a mystery.

Today, the behavior was much better, however I still came down hard on the kids and will not let up until they know I mean business.


The Bus Driver

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mini-Mouthboy’s Great Improvement and Other Items

After speaking with the school administrator about Mini-Mouthboy, and speaking with the bus driver that transports him in the morning times, I have seen a HUGE improvement in his behavior. The child that was back talking me now does what he is supposed to do, he sits in his seat and he does not cause a disruption anymore. I’m hoping this marked improvement continues to be the norm for him.

What really helped him is the responsibility of seating my Pre-K students as they got on the bus. Since he was the oldest child and the closest to the front, I asked him if he would be willing to take on that responsibility. He has risen to the challenge. I’ve also told him if he continues to do well in his current seat that I would be more than willing to move him back further in the bus should his behavior continue to show me he can handle it. He is a sweet child and I always make sure to point out that he had excellent behavior on the bus before he gets off every day.

Hyperboy is another one of my regular front seaters. Since he cannot seem to sit still and the only speed he moves at is a run, he has earned himself a front seat. Again, he is not a bad kid, just very hyper. He sits next to Blue-Eyegirl who also cannot seem to stay seated and insists on standing on the seat most days where I have to tell her repeatedly to stop and sit down. I think firm consistency, expectations, and staying calm are the keys to getting these children to behave the way I want them to behave. Calm bus driver = Calm students.

I have worked on finalizing my assigned seats for my younger kids, and now I have to tackle my middle schoolers. Hopefully by the end of the week I will have finalized their seating arrangement as well. From there I need to tackle the second half of my route with my 4th and 5th graders earning assigned seats. I need bigger index cards, but hopefully once I get everything arranged I can go through and record where I have everybody seated, get the large index cards, and re-do my names and numbers on each seat so I don’t have a million index cards taped to the sides of my bus.

Finding Normalcy,

The Bus Driver

Monday, November 10, 2008


Nearly every day, there is a story about how some school bus driver was careless, irresponsible, or otherwise unfit to drive a school bus. These stories reflect badly on those of us who do our jobs the proper way. Stories, such as the one below, are becoming more and more commonplace. Sadly, people like this should NEVER be around children.,2933,449307,00.html

Bus Driver Fired After Kicking Girl, 9, Off Bus for Changing

A school bus driver has been fired and may face charges after a 9-year-old girl was dropped off on a busy highway after switching seats without permission. Cyrena Medbury was ordered off the bus on Route 9 Wednesday more than a mile from her home in Shrewsbury, Mass."I switched seats," Cyrena Medbury told FOX News on Monday.

Donald Davison Jr. of Grafton was fired by theschool bus company AA Transportation Inc. after the incident came to light."I would like to see child endangerment charges on him," Melissa Doyle, Cyrena's mother, told FOX News.Another parent from the school picked the girl up and drove her home after being phoned by his daughter from the bus."She actually didn't walk all of the way home," Doyle told FOX News. "She started to walk and was picked up by a little girl that was on the bus and saw the incident, and she told her dad and she convinced her dad to go and get [Cyrena] and bring her home. So thank goodness there was a nice person out there that got her home safely."

Sgt. Alfred Pratt of the Shrewsbury Police Department told the Telegram
& Gazette of Worcester that he couldn't say anything more than it was "an
active investigation." Davison was replaced by a temporary driver the final two
days of the week and the bus company provided a monitor. A call for comment to a
listing for Davison was not immediately returned.

Its very unfortunate the family had to endure the trauma this careless bus driver inflicted. It could have been a lot worse. She could have been abducted. A passing vehicle could have struck her. Any number if things could have happened to this child all because of the carelessness of her bus driver acting seemingly in anger and out of spite. Should this driver be fired for his carelessness regarding the safety of one of his students? Yes.

That being said, was the girl correct in changing seats arbitrarily? No. The rules are clearly referenced on most buses and most students go through school bus safety training at least once a year. In my county, the proper procedure for a violation of the bus safety is to pull the videotape and write the student up for the infraction. Then we turn both the write up and the videotape evidence into the schools. The schools then decide on the proper consequence for the student. If a student is being particularly aggressive, defiant, and otherwise a nuisance, it is perfectly acceptable to leave the child at a school (doesn’t have to be their school) with an administrator, OR to call the police for a particularly unruly child. Additionally, the bus driver should have contact information for the child’s parents. When all else fails, call the parents and notify them of the misbehavior.

For parents, teachers, and other folks out there who may be reading this blog, I cannot stress enough, the importance of school bus safety. Discuss it with your children, students, and grandchildren. Stress the importance of staying seated, not causing a distraction, following the rules, and listening to the bus driver. Also discuss with them what to do if the driver DOES make them feel uncomfortable or if they feel the driver is making unreasonable demands. Had it not been for the other girl telling her father, that child who was kicked off may never have gotten home that evening. If you have any questions or concerns or even just want to schedule a meeting with your bus driver, don’t hesitate to call the bus garage and request a meeting. We don’t bite.

Always Safety Conscious,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rolly Chair Girl and Cotton Picking Boy

This is a story I couldn’t pass up telling. I was reminded of this incident on Friday night at the football game. I was one of four buses that drove the band kids. Anyhow, before I became a School Bus Driver, I was once upon a time a Substitute Teacher. I still substitute occasionally when I’m needed and it coincides with my schedule for driving a bus.

Substituting was my escape from a jobless existence that was my life in 2005-2006 after the escape from a particularly horrendous job situation. I had gotten to know the high school quite well and was being reserved for several days in advance by that school as well as two others I subbed at regularly. On any given week, I was busy at least 3 out of 5 days subbing. I had been reserved by the high school to sub in the ISS (In School Suspension) class. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintances of Rolly Chair Girl and Cotton Picking Boy.

Both these kids were in ISS for dumb reasons. That was the year most kids got thrown in ISS for not tucking their shirts in or having cell phones on campus or any number of stupid reasons. Very few were in ISS for a fight or something similar, yet ISS was constantly packed and there was a waiting list. Yes, that’s right folks, a WAITING list.

As a part of ISS, the kids had to fill out a survey that intended to help them understand the reason for them being in ISS. It asked questions like “Why were you placed here?” and “How can you prevent coming back?” This useless waste of school resource paper was in addition to the work that their teacher did or did not send. In any case, most kids sat there and stared blankly at the wall the whole day. The highlight was lunch.

I was peeking at some of these kids’ folders and came across Cotton Picking Boy’s survey. I had to suppress laughter as he answered every question as though he were a Cotton Picking worker in the fields when he got home from school. He brought such a highlight to my day; I pulled him aside and told him I thought it was VERY funny. He smiled and went on his way. Later that week, I was subbing in his drama class and he came up to me, hugged me, and then stated, “You don’t think I’ll get in trouble with all that Cotton Picking stuff do you??” I laughed and told him, “Nah!”

RollyChair Girl was a different character. She is known for her bubbly personality and certainly didn’t fit in with the typical ISS child. Somehow, she managed to acquire a chair with wheels. We’re all sitting quietly, I’m reading my book and trying NOT to fall asleep in a class that’s boring as all heck, when I hear a CRASH! I look up and there’s RollyChair Girl on the floor. Of course it didn’t occur to me to TAKE the chair AWAY, and she somehow managed to do it TWO more times! She was on the band trip and she reminded me of her most embarrassing moment in school. Gotta love that positive outlook!!

Thinking Positive!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bus Stops, Laziness, and the continuing saga of Mouthboy

For my readers... here's a math question for you.

Q. How many times does a bus stop within a 5-mile radius?

A. Too many times!

My current route is a decent size route, but most of these kids live in relative close proximity, yet instead of having just one stop on a short road, I have to make 3 stops. Short is defined as maybe the length of one and a half football fields. For my babies, pre-k through third grade, I can understand it. But when a highschooler insists on riding door to door, its insane, but mostly due to their friends getting off later, it’s a social thing for many of them. Some stops I have set due to safety because of being on a busy road, but other stops, especially when I do my high school run, I can easily stop at an intersection on a non-busy road and expect them to walk 2-4 doors down to their homes.

There was a parent this morning that asked me if I would take her son along with her daughter to school. The son goes to a school that technically he could walk to, and he has been doing so, but in doing so, he actually has to cross a pretty busy area that often has buses, cars, and other people not really paying much attention to what is happening around them. I told her I would take him on the bus, simply because I have the room, also, it’s a safety concern for that child to walk to that school from where that child lives. There’s another one of my kids that rides in the evenings, but walks in the mornings, once in a great while, I’ll see her coming out of her house getting ready to walk, and because it was cold a few mornings ago, I offered to take her to school. Since she rides my bus in the afternoons it wasn’t an issue.

Rain is another thing. Parents call and complain about their child getting wet in the rain on their walk home from school off the bus. So as a result, every time it rains, we are “reminded” to drop these cherubs as close to the front door as possible. Yeah lady, I’m going to drive my big yellow school bus straight into your living room just so little Johnny doesn’t get wet. You would think rain is toxic to these kids.

Heck, some parents are so petty they will call if you drop their child at the mailbox instead of the driveway, which is a difference of 5 feet away. Some will even call claiming that you LEFT their Cherub at their bus stop in the morning or that you didn’t even come by. I hate to break it to parents but I’ll let you in on a little secret…

1. Cherub was playing around and forgot to get on the bus.

2. Cherub was sauntering his/her way TO the bus stop expecting the world to wait on him/her.

3. Cherub wasn’t READY when the bus came by, the bus stopped and waited about a minute, while ALL the other children who get on at that stop were there, ready and waiting were being seated and getting settled.

4. The bus came by at the usual time or even a little later due to having a substitute. IF Cherub were out there at least 5 minutes AHEAD of time, he/she wouldn’t have MISSED the bus!

Mouthboy also didn’t take my warning this morning and earned himself a write up to be turned in tomorrow morning bright and early. He thought he’d be sneaky and talk quietly, unfortunately for him, I was watching his mouth move in the mirror. He gave me attitude and I’m done dealing with him.

Mini-Mouthboy is another one of my characters that is having difficulty accepting where I’m seating him. He stays up front because of allegations of him and another boy (who is also seated up front) swearing while all my little babies were on the bus. Mini is maybe in 3rd grade and already a pain in the rear. I think I have found a way for him to be helpful. I’m tasking him with seating my pre-k babies as they get on the bus, and once I have assigned seats for everybody, his job will be very easy. I told him, if he did a good job being my helper, I’d consider moving him back a bit. Mini’s sister is another big mouth that does not like to listen. She’s going to learn that she cannot get away with anything on my bus.

Floating along in Choppy Seas,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The tale of Mouthboy

Mouthboy does not know when to shut up. For the love of God and all that is holy, he gets on my LAST dang nerve. Mouthboy is an 8th grader who looks like he should be in high school. He insists on asking incessant questions then making remarks to other students around him. Because of his poor judgment and lack of proper behavior on the bus, he is permanently in the second seat.

Today, I laid down the law with my middle schoolers and have found a method, hopefully, that works. I have a lot of my younger kids sit one to a seat, then when my middle schoolers get on, they fill in the empty seats, starting with my main troublemakers in the front, working my way back. There are a couple middle school kids whom I allow to choose a seat because they actually cause NO problems. I laid down the law today and told them that if they did not be silent, and if I heard them talking, I would write them up for insubordination. Mouthboy tested me and immediately I said, “Ok that’s one write up.” The rest of them got quiet so fast you could have heard a pin drop.

Mouthboy stayed silent for the rest of the ride until just before he got off when he asked me earnestly if he was really going to get a write up. Since he was quiet for the rest of the ride, I DID let him go today, however I told him any further infractions would most definitely end up with a write up for insubordination. It may take a write up for him to understand that I mean business. I will show him a write up slip with his name on it tomorrow and let him know that all I need to do is put a date on it and turn it in if he messes up and causes more problems.

Some of what I’ve seen helps is if I seat them boy/girl in the seat. Other drivers seat them boys on one side, girls on the other. It depends on the kids and the bus.

Finding Normalcy,

The Bus Driver

Monday, November 3, 2008

Come to Jesus!!

So, my talk wasn’t really so much of a talk as I’ve had no voice for the last 7 days, and when I do talk I sound either like a really bad chipmunk or I sound so hoarse like I’ve been yelling for 5 days straight. Instead I enacted on my plan for assigned seats. Since I don’t know the kids names yet, but I know the faces of the troublemakers, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Today I seated all the children from pre-k up till middle school. The only grades I did not seat were the highschoolers and the 4th and 5th graders. Those kids get on during my second run and they’re usually very well behaved, though with my 4th and 5th graders, they’re inching towards a “Come to Jesus” meeting as well. I had a few of my middle school hooligans elect to walk home instead of sit in an assigned seat. Its going to be a very cold walk home once the weather gets into the mid 50’s during the day. But take solace that the seats will be there, waiting for their wonderful cherub faces to fill them.

I have diagrammed out a game plan, which will be tweaked as I get the names of the kids. Tomorrow, I plan to go to the dollar store and pick up some index cards, a couple rolls of tape, a sharpie, and ask about getting numbers on my seats. Then as they get on I will actually assign them seats. Once I have all their names down on index cards and on a separate sheet of paper designating the seat, I will then do my organization. The index cards will be immediately posted above the seat in which they are to sit. For my very few “good” middle school kids, I will allow them to choose a seat, but then they have to sit in that seat until I change it or until I allow change. My “hooligans” get no choice. I will do the same with my 4th and 5th graders on round 2.

Hosting a Revival!!

The Bus Driver

Friday, October 31, 2008


Warning… HUGE RANT ahead. Read if you dare.

My middle schoolers and I are about to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting come Monday or Tuesday, whenever I get my voice back. I’m sick of them acting like jackasses that have never rode the bus before. I keep a pretty orderly bus, but invariably I’m always shouting at them to shut up. I thought that since today was Halloween, that I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and turn up the radio and have a rockin’ party on the bus. I thought I’d be nice and give out candy to each student as they got off the bus. Instead I ended up shouting at them the first 3 minutes into the ride because they couldn’t take a treat with respect. Having the radio on is a privilege on my bus.

I’m toying with several assigned seat ideas. Some of which include putting my little ones in some of the further back seats and seating my middle school up front. Additionally, perhaps sticking my little ones one to a seat and then having my middle schoolers fill in the seats. The issue I’m having now is that some of them wait to get on the bus till the last minute so they can get the back part of the bus. But then they act up when they get there. The bus ride is only 10 friggin minutes!!!!! They can’t seem to shut up and behave for 10 minutes!!! ARGHHHH.

One kid THREW candy AT my bus AFTER he got off. JACKASS!

It’s the last time I give a treat to any one of them for a VERY long time. I am very frustrated. But by the end of this weekend I WILL have a game plan. Mark my words. They are about to hate riding my bus.

Contemplating their demise,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The continuing saga of Alternative Boy

This morning I went and turned in the write up for the incident yesterday afternoon. I had the bus shop pull the tape so that I could cue it up and the school could see the behavior in question. The principal of the Alternative School met with me in the office. Our exchange went something like this:

Principal: He got 5 days off for yesterday morning right?
Me: Yes Ma’am.
Secretary: Yes.
Principal: Ok, add another 10 days on top of that for this one.
Me: Ok, Thank you. So that’s 15 total days off the bus?
Principal: Yes, that’s what the protocol is.
Me: Thank you very much.

Excerpts from our current bus policy (taken directly from the handbook):

Riding a school bus is a privilege, not a right. The student who persists in misbehaving on a school bus jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the bus and may lose the privilege of riding the bus. The bus driver is responsible for maintaining discipline on the bus and in this capacity has the authority to assign seats and to make other reasonable demands of students. Any necessary discipline will be administered by a principal or the principal’s designee. In extreme circumstances, bus drivers may deliver a misbehaving student to a school principal or to the police before finishing the route. A student is to ride the bus to which he/she is assigned. Any emergency request to ride a bus not previously assigned to the student should be requested in writing by the parent/guardian.

The bus is an extension of the classroom/school, and the bus driver should be extended the same respect as a classroom teacher. The bus driver has absolute charge of the pupils riding his/her bus. Any offense covered in the Student Behavior Code (Policy JCDA) that occurs en route to and from school and/or on a school vehicle will be dealt with as if it occurred on school property. Also, students are not allowed to eat, drink, or chew gum while on the bus. In addition to the punishment options identified in the Student Behavior Code, administrators are authorized to suspend students from riding the bus for a specified period of one to ten days and require a parent conference before the student resumes riding the bus. During this conference, the administrator, parent(s)/guardian(s), and a student may establish a contract of bus conduct for the student to follow. If necessary, an administrator can suspend a student from bus transportation for the remainder of the school year.

The typical discipline for bus behavior problems goes as follows:

1st Write up – Warning (OR) 3 days off the bus – depends on school and the offense the student committed.

2nd Write up – 3 days off the bus. (This may be skipped to step 3 if the student has already had 3 days off for the 1st Write up)

3rd Write up – 5 days off the bus.

4th Write up – 10 days off the bus.

5th Write up – Loss of bus riding privilege.

Yes, Alternative Boy has earned himself 10 days off the bus for his rude and disrespectful behavior from yesterday afternoon. We shall continue this story when he gets back on the bus in 15 days. The principal didn’t even bother to look at the tape of the incident.

In other news, I need to figure out what I’m going to wear on Halloween. I’m thinking a witch hat and wig and a witch nose if I can find one! Any suggestions?

Loving the Peace and Quiet,

The Bus Driver

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alternative Boy gets written up

So, I just knew it wouldn’t be long before I had an interesting story about Alternative Boy. This morning began pretty typically, dropped the highschoolers off and continued to the first of four elementary schools that I drop off at in the morning times. He is calling me from the back of the bus asking to move up, change seats, and just generally being a pain in the rear. He changes seats anyways and I make him move back to his original seat. He didn’t like this too much and started to pout.

He forgets about pouting and begins to hold his arms as though he’s holding a rifle or a gun with them. He makes the cocking/loading noise of the gun and then “aims” and pretends to fire. He does this several times in the direction of the bus behind me. I tell him he needs to stop. He doesn’t listen. He then says, “What bus is behind us? Oh, Bus 36. They are ‘bout to get shot!” Then “aims” his “gun” at the bus behind me and continues to make the noise. I ask him if that is a threat and tell him to stop. He doesn’t listen again, “fires off” two more times and then stops, laughing.

I wrote him up.

He got 5 days suspended off the bus.

This afternoon he got on my bus with an attitude and flounced back to the back seat complaining the whole time that I wrote him up for “nothing” and that he didn’t deserve what he got. He continues to question me why I wrote him up and I ignored his prodding demands. I wasn’t going to get into it with him. Well he stews the whole ride, then 2 stops before his designated stop, he gets up and demands to get off the bus because I didn’t turn down his road and take him RIGHT home. We are not allowed to let them off at a stop other than their own designated stop. I ask him politely to sit down and wait until his stop. He continues to get louder and louder and then tells me to either let him off or call the police. I asked him to step aside to let the other children off at their designated stop, but as soon as I opened the door part way he kicked the door jerking it out of my hand (I have an older, swing arm/hand operated door on my bus) and proceeds to walk across in front of the bus. He takes the wad of gum (my kids are not allowed to have gum – or any type of candy - on the bus) out of his mouth and flips it up in front of me as if to say, “fuck you” and walks off.

I rerouted the bus so that I would not need to go by his house. I deliberately did that simply because I didn’t know if he had an actual gun at home and didn’t want to put myself or any of my other kids on the bus in danger of him. I plan to write him up again for insubordination and disrespect.

Staying Calm,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frustrations, frustrations, frustrations.

Well folks, I survived my first week of my new route only to discover more frustrations. I’ll be quite busy over the next week because the previous driver left with NO route description written and NO list of students names, phone numbers, allergies and what not. So that responsibility which should have been completed in AUGUST – and to some extent September - is now left up to me. I plan on composing a parent letter introducing myself and asking (begging) them to please fill out and complete the student information sheets.

Overall it’s been a good route so far but I’ve come to some conclusions:

1. The students SHALL have assigned seats. This will help me learn their names as well as figure out who is doing what when Brunette Girl comes up to me and says vaguely “They’re swearing (cussing) in the back.”

2. I shall be numbering all the seats in order for the sake of organization and sanity. When I say, “SEAT 4 sit down!” they know whom I’m addressing.

3. They will sit properly and follow all bus safety rules.

4. Morning routes are quiet routes.

5. Free Fridays will be implemented in cases of good behavior, however assigned seats and rules still apply.

The previous driver expected grades 4-8 to be quiet on the bus (no talking) in the afternoons. The kids are pretty good with this rule and I enjoy a nice quiet bus with some mild chatter in between the seats from my younger kids and highschoolers. Because I feel that no child should be forced to be silent ALL the time, I have implemented “Free Fridays” where they (my two silent groups) can choose between music and talking. If they choose to talk, they cannot get loud. If I have to speak to them more than 3 times about the volume, Free Friday is no more. I may choose to have on music of MY choice in the afternoons except on Friday where they can choose the station. I shall probably end up alternating Fridays with music and talking so that everyone gets a little fun on Fridays.

Alternative boy is still a pain in the rear, but his permanent assigned seat is one of the last seats on the bus. It gets him the furthest away from my 4th and 5th graders who tend to get riled up when he gets them going. If duct tape were legal, I’d tape his mouth shut.

My frustration for the week came about mid-week. I drop off 2 sisters right in front of their house. I specifically changed the route because I suspected the mother was not letting the children inside in the afternoons and that because I couldn’t see where the children were, the neighbor was getting stuck watching the children regularly. With the way I do the route now, I pass by these 2 girls’ house FOUR times - twice on each route. Normally it doesn’t concern me if parent is not home on the first run as they are typically there by the time we circle the neighborhood or by the time the second run passes by the house TWICE. Well, this time the children got off the bus FOUR separate times to find the apartment locked up tight with nobody home or answering the door. I FINALLY get a call on the radio from dispatch to turn around after I was planning on taking these kids to their fathers house across town, to go back to the house. I go back, and wait another TEN minutes AFTER the whole route has been done for the day for the mother to finally waltz her butt to her house to get the children. I let it go, but I’m wondering if this will be a regular issue for this mother and children. I suspect I’ll probably be making a trip to the police station in the near future with these kids simply because mom is not home. This is the same mother who sent her son onto the bus in his BOXER shorts… clothes in hand, and he had to get dressed ON the bus on the way to school.

It will DEFINITELY be an interesting year!!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Entering New Territory

This past week I was asked if I would accept a permanent bus route. Up until now, I have been “floating” between buses, filling in for drivers who were absent, on fieldtrips, or otherwise unavailable to drive their buses. I loved doing that simply because my job changed every day. More and more though, I wanted a bus that I could call my own, but the options were limited and a few of them would have made me pull my hair out and quit had I taken the buses. (We have a few buses in town that are placed in the category of “worst bus ever.”)

On Wednesday, I got a phone call telling me I had until the afternoon to think about accepting a bus or remain a floater. We currently get .15 cents a mile and as floaters get paid for 52 miles a day. This bus that I’ve accepted has 81 miles. It’s a significant pay raise of about 20 dollars a week. It’s also one of the main reasons I accepted the bus. I spent the remainder of the week learning the route from the old driver, and trying to remember names of kids she tells me. This coming week will be my first week enforcing the same rules the old bus driver had on the bus, and making it “my” bus. I’m starting to have doubts entering this new territory, but I think I’m ready for the challenge of harnessing over 100 kids. This bus has 3 runs in the afternoon and 2 in the morning, so it will be a challenge to get these kids to school on time. The plus side is I already know a few of the kids. Unfortunately I know them as the troublemakers. But I’ve got enough experience that I believe I can handle them with my usual sarcasm and wit.

Alternative boy is a student I hauled approximately 2 years ago when the alternative school was located on a separate campus from regular school and was not funded by our public education system. We had an outside educator (Ombudsman) come in and run our alternative school. When I hauled him 2 years ago, he was no trouble to me, but he was known to have a bit of a smart mouth on him. I’ve been told he doesn’t sit with some of the younger students because he gets them all riled up. We’re gonna keep that rule!

Mouth girl is exactly that. She is the LOUDEST child I have EVER met. I encountered her early on, when she was in 7th grade at the middle school. I was substituting at the time and her and her classmates gave me a day of HELL. I had hoped to never see her again, but now that she is on my bus, I’ll have to deal with her. It seems now that she has learned to control her mouth, but has temper flare ups, so we’ll have to see how the year progresses.

D1 and D2 are twin boys who are very mischievous. They have nearly the same first name so it will be a challenge to tell who is who especially when I have to write one of them up. They are from my younger group of children who will be a challenge.

Blondie girl needs a seatbelt. Badly! I keep seeing her head pop up and down up and down. It’s like she is on a bouncy toy. She also comes from my younger children. I think she will probably end up having a permanent front seat if she cannot calm down and sit properly.

Hopefully I’ll survive my first week with them. If you don’t hear from me, send a search party!

Anxious and Excited,

The Bus Driver

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cops, Drugs, Fights, Crazy Neighbors and Fieldtrips.

Hi everyone!

I’ve been incredibly busy lately. October is our busy season. The field trips for all the fall events start rolling in. It starts with the local Pumpkin Patch and ends with the Ice Show. All of these events have one thing in common. How much time can we waste while students are supposed to be in school getting an education? Sometimes, I think fun should be a part of education. I remember when I was in elementary school, one of the best assemblies we had was when a group put on a show for us. We got to see our teachers having fun and even saw the Principal (all big scary administrator) get up and “let his hair down” so to speak. The field trips this week have reminded me of what its like to enjoy the simple things. One highlight of the week was actually transporting students to a Rodeo. Some of the locals in a nearby town put on a Rodeo and invited the children along for the festivities. Activities we were treated to were some cattle roping, bull riding, barrel racing, and just general laughs. Free tee shirts and lunches were provided for the kids, and it was just a good time.

Other than fieldtrips happening, I’ve been dealing with some crazy neighbors. I promised in a past blog that I’d tell the story, but the story is long and convoluted with details, so here is the condensed version of events.

Generally, my apartment complex has quiet people, ones that hold jobs, pay their rent, and look out for each other. In 4+ years of living here, I’ve never had to call the police for any reason, but since August of this year, I have had to call them twice on my downstairs neighbors.

The story begins late August, when a young guy (18 years old—maybe) and what appears to be a live-in girlfriend (18 years old—again maybe) move into the apartment. The guy drives a tricked out late-model Chevy pickup and advertises his ownership of said vehicle with a license plate emblazoned with his name. Chevy boy and Makeup girl are literally night owls and before long the apartment is the scene of late night parties, complete with loud music, Marijuana, drinking, and fights.

My first inkling that my new neighbors were trouble was when Chevy boy stopped me as I was heading into the building and brought a Marijuana search warrant to my attention. (Yeah THIS will end well.) I had suspected they were regular party people from the constant smell of cigarette and (yes) Marijuana smoke that hung in the hallway and seeped up through the poorly insulated walls and floors of my apartment. At first I was trying to be optimistic, thinking that maybe it was mistaken for the person who occupied the apartment previously.

A few days later, I heard cussing and lots of banging and thudding from the room directly beneath me. I heard an unidentified male say, “Don’t kick me, I’ll kick you back!” The girl yelled something back to him and there was more thudding and crashing. He said, “What the f--- are you doing?!?!” I then decided it was time to call the police. Three cop cars showed and the situation got resolved.

The police were called again and again for various reasons over the course of September. I asked a local police officer at a convenience store about my new “colorful” neighbors, and the police officer mentioned to me that the neighbors were well known around town as troublemakers.

Saturday, September 27, I was woken up in the middle of the night to some loud banging, crashing, thudding, and Makeup girl yelling, “Get him out of my house!” and “Someone better call 911!” So, I did, and Drunkboy got arrested after getting in a brawl with Chevy boy who was also drunk. I watched most of this from my upstairs window overlooking the parking lot. They sent 4 cop cars that night.

My folks rolled into town for a visit and they observed my crazy neighbors. The final straw happened on Sunday, October 5 when the police were called for stolen items by the crazy neighbors themselves. It became this whole soap opera and it was like watching Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and an episode of Cops rolled into one big happy family sitcom.

They got evicted on Monday, October 6. Chevy boy, with the help of his parents, moved out of the apartment. He looked sufficiently humiliated. His parents looked downright pissed off. Makeup girl had packed up and left on Sunday.

At least my apartment doesn’t smell of cigarette smoke anymore!

Never a dull moment!!!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Substitute Academics for Mediocre.

Recently, I have been substituting at the High School Special Education class during the day between routes. So far, it has been very interesting and gotten me thinking on why our schools are performing so badly academically. We live in a society where teachers don’t teach. (Of course, this is a broad sweeping generalization, there are several teachers out there who love to teach and actually DO teach – so this is excluding them) Some teachers teach only to cover the “testing” standards that all schools must achieve. It’s a wonder we even MAKE AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress – in our schools.

I have had the honor of following “wrestling boy” around to his classes at the local high school. Most of his classes are pretty good; they’re all Special Ed classes with very low numbers (max of 8 kids in a class). All was going well until I spent time in his Math class. The teacher who was supposed to be teaching basically droned on about the topic for about 5 minutes, explaining in one example how to do the school work, and then insisted on using the rest of the hour period to catch up on social gossip with the other Para-pro who follows another child around all day along with checking his email incessantly throughout the period. These kids are basically allowed to sit in class with limited or no instruction and are expected to learn the material. So I worked one on one with wrestling boy. I then also turned my attention to quiet girl and socialite girl (who had asked me for help once I helped quiet girl understand the material) The other Para-pro did Sudoku the whole period and chatted with the Teacher who was SUPPOSED to be teaching the students. Annoying boy slept the whole period. The previous Friday, the students had a test. Even kids who got ALL the questions wrong STILL got a 50 percent for writing their names and “showing up”. I would have been embarrassed as a teacher when 2 students got 100’s on a 5-question test. (One of which was wrestling boy, but only because wrestling boy had supervision from me, the use of a calculator, and we drilled on the material the day before.) One got an 80 and the rest of the kids (3-4) got 50 percent. Why did any of them not get a zero? Because of the whole “We don’t want to hurt kid’s feelings by giving them a grade that they EARNED, so we’ll assuage them and their parents by saying they failed, but… not by much….”.

I console myself with the knowledge that I’ve gotten to know “Cola boy” and “Helpful boy” this week. Cola boy is autistic and has a generally sweet personality. He amazes me with his ability to remember anyone’s birthday. He is obsessed with his birthday and the months of the year. He can recite them in order, including the numbers. Oh, and he loves to put money in the Coke machine to get a drink. Helpful boy has been a joy to work with this week, although his behavior is similar to herding a class full of two-year-olds. He is a hoot to talk to and asks questions incessantly. He and I share a “secret” handshake and we also “high-five thumbs”. He is truly a happy-go-lucky kid. He makes the best out of life and what it’s given him. On Friday at lunch, he pulled out a chair for me. He makes me believe that chivalry is NOT dead.

Somehow in my crazy schedule, I still drive a bus with insane parents and even more insane co-workers. There are also some things going on in my personal life with some crazy neighbors, but I’m going to have to save that soap opera for a whole other post. We now begin the season of “Useless Field Trips” as I have blogged about before. This year it’s the Pumpkin Patch, the Rodeo, and the ever-popular Disney on Ice show.

Riding the Short Bus,

The Bus Driver.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Of Backing, Eccentricity, and Precautions

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and we’ve been in school for just about a month. I couldn’t blog much last week due to a situation at work that had me all nervous about losing my job. However, I’m still here and still a bus driver. I’ve learned several things in the last few weeks.

1. No matter how bad something is, there is always someone who has done worse and still lived to tell the tale.

2. One might meet the strangest people in the most unlikely places.

3. Lock your shit up.

The first lesson came while driving some children home one afternoon. I pulled up to a stop, let the children out, and then went to back up into a nearby driveway/trailer park entrance. I had checked my mirrors and did not see the car behind me, which I promptly had a fender bender with. Things turned out in my favor with the driver of the other vehicle getting arrested for no insurance, and luckily there was minimal damage to either vehicle. After that, folks at my workplace were calling me crash and joking with me about my backing skills. I also got told several stories of fellow bus drivers who have done way worse to buses, including one who bent an entire front fender off a brand new bus while backing. Yes, maybe we shouldn’t back up as often as we do and that person is still a bus driver too.

The second lesson came while I was on a field trip approximately an hour away. I had dropped off the team for their game and went and dined at a local Chinese place. I usually run into some of the most interesting people on field trips. I had chosen the Chinese place to get out of the heat and humidity that was widespread that day. I settled in and opened my book. This eccentric lady, dressed in black walks in and orders her food. While she is waiting, she jabbers away at the waitress about how her friend is so sick and has been in the hospital, but it keeps going around the Huddle House (local food joint) and how the management there doesn’t understand about people needing to stay home and do nothing but get better from illness and on and on and on. The waitress looked at her wits end with the woman and was only nodding and responding to be polite. I was thinking, the woman is probably lonely and is a little crazy in the head, so best not to interfere. She sneezed, and I naturally said “God bless you” and that was how our conversation started. The waitress looked relieved. “Bon Bon” as she likes to be called started telling me how she was so far away from home, so naturally I asked where home was for her, and she stated “New York”. I related I grew up in the northeast and we talked a little bit about the weather. Eventually the conversation came back to where we both live and where she grew up. It turns out, she grew up down the street from where I live today. She remembers when the apartment building I live in presently was built in the 60’s. She remembers how it was “furnished in 60’s style metal furniture, and of course you couldn’t break the furniture as the 60’s made good furniture”. I asked her about the gentleman downstairs who has lived in these apartments for approximately 27 years. She became so excited that I knew him and then she told me of her trip to Peru with him and her girlfriend. She was tickled pink that I was a friend with him and that he was still alive after all these years. So now I’ve got to ask my neighbor about “Bon Bon”, Renee, and Peru.

The third lesson was a little hard to swallow. I had my GPS unit stolen on Friday night and disappointingly; I believe it’s as good as gone.

Life is going to fast.

The Bus Driver

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Violence in schools

Two full weeks have passed since we began school and Labor Day weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. It seems that this school year has already started out with a bang. Parents are more irritable and demanding, the children seem to be more off the wall than ever, and bus drivers are at a loss as to how to strike a middle ground.

Now, there will always be parents who are condescending, argumentative, and generally a pain in the ass. Their offspring are the same way. Rainy days are, by far, the worst out of all the days combined, but even on sunny days we run into some idiot people. Or rather idiot people run into us… HOW they don’t see a yellow school bus that is 4 times their size is BEYOND me! I wish there was a license to breed, it would simplify things greatly!

Kids are being taught that fighting and arguing is the only way to solve a problem. Granted, a lot of what is being taught can be contributed to the culture and ethnicity that these kids are being raised with, but when kids are raised to be inherently violent and are taught that violence is the only way to solve a conflict then there is definitely a problem.

Case in point - My friend’s daughter is in second grade. My friend got a call this week that her daughter had been in a physical altercation with another child at school on the playground. A child came up and was mocking my friend’s daughter. My friend’s daughter told her to knock it off, and a second child got involved and told my friend’s daughter that she had “picked a fight with the wrong girl” because the girl she told to knock it off was the second girl’s cousin. My friend’s daughter has been taught not to fight, but my friend’s daughter lost her temper and threw a pair of lightweight gloves at the second child. The second child then jumped on my friend’s daughter, proceeded to pull her hair, yank her arm backwards, shove sand in her face, and pull her hair again. This is when my friend’s daughter decided she had had enough and pulled at the girl’s hair and RIIIPPP out came the second girl’s weave. (For those that don’t know, a Weave is a hair extension that is either sewn into the natural hair, or bobby pinned or elastic’ed into the natural hair. These weaves are more popular in the African American Culture) It couldn’t be reattached, and admittedly the second girl claimed she jumped on my friend’s daughter for “No Reason.” My friend’s daughter had a lot of questions, mainly about the weave, as to why this other girl was taught that fighting solved conflicts. My friend didn’t have any good explanation other than that’s what she was taught. It only left my friend’s daughter more confused than ever as to the proper way to handle a situation.

Even on the bus, we experience arguments that we cannot control. Children will bring neighborhood situations and feuds onto the bus. Things get out of hand, police get called and our CHILDREN are getting arrested. What is WRONG with this picture?

In other news, I now have a downstairs neighbor who, so far, has been far more annoying than the last, but I shall blog about this another day. Lets just say, I had to call the police for a domestic disturbance. Never a dull moment!

Getting Punchy,
The Bus Driver

Friday, August 22, 2008

Row, Row, Row the Bus...

Gently down the flooded street, through the torrential rain. If you are a bus driver, and live in Florida, Georgia or Alabama, congratulations, this is what you will be experiencing due to Tropical Storm Fay. Downpours, flooding, high wind, and aggravated parents, it never ends!

Why oh why, do parents let their children take showers and baths, but then freak out if a little rain gets on them. Rain, to parents, has become poisonous. We have parents who will drive to the END of their driveways, all 30 feet between the house and the curb, to make sure their child doesn’t get wet. Not only this, they actually get out of their cars, get THEMSELVES wet, and proceed to escort their kid to the bus under an umbrella sheltering their child. What happened to old school where our parents sent us out with raincoats and umbrellas (if we were lucky), to wait at our DESIGNATED bus stops for the bus? The bus also NEVER made provisions for parents who wanted their “special flower” to be dropped off at their driveway end, or in some cases, doorsteps. If it rained during the day and you didn’t come prepared to school, you got to get off at your regular bus stop and walk home ANYWAYS.

It seems the rain makes people stupid. Its like they see rain and say, oh gee I’m going to be stupid today. Stopping suddenly, cutting in front of other vehicles, and driving in a bus’ blind spot are common occurrences that happen more frequently when it rains. Gah!

Soaked to the Bone,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dear Parents.....

Dear Parents,

Please, for the love of God and all that is holy, teach your child their address and a phone number that is always going to be able to be reached. If you happen to be one of the lucky people who always change address or phone number like someone changes a pair of pants, please update the schools AND your child as to how he/she/they can reach you in the event your child gets lost, hurt, or any other myriad of reasons. We have kids here who are in the FIFTH grade and don’t know their home address or their parents’ phone numbers.

Additionally, PLEASE teach your child their grade and school that they attend. Don’t just put them on the bus and expect us to figure out where YOUR child should get off. Please help us out by just giving us your child’s name, your phone number and address, the child’s school, and grade. Just those four bits of information can mean the world to us in getting your child safely to school and back home again. There’s a reason we send home student information slips, and they aren’t just to decorate your garbage can or line the bottom of your purse. Please fill these out as soon as possible; it would make our lives easier than having to track you down through non-working phone numbers and having your child crying hysterically on our buses when they have no clue what’s going on or how to tell us to get “home”.

Getting a Busy Signal,
The Bus Driver

Monday, August 18, 2008

The year starts....

A week ago, this Monday, was the annual school bus safety meeting that we all have to go to each year. It’s where they tell us to not die plzkthx. Anyhow, the day was fairly uneventful overall despite my expectation of drama to erupt. We started at 9 am, which was surprising for those of us remember last year’s fiasco. Last year during our meeting day, they had folks from a local bank come in and give a speech about their promotions. The speech lasted about 2 hours and ended up including some “crowd rousing” cheering and other gimmicks that got annoying after the first 10 minutes of the presentation. All in all it was a complete waste of time and only succeeded in making us all really pissed off.

This year’s meeting actually started on time and lasted till lunchtime. Most of the meeting was focused on the guest speaker. He did his part in 2 hours time. The remaining hour of the morning, from 9-12, was dedicated to policy changes, memos and other FYI sort of items. Yay – only not.

Anyhow, the first two days went well. They were a little hectic and outside of a few crying children, there were no major problems to speak of. Saturday had me going on an all day field trip to a Softball tournament. That was pretty mild, though it made for a long day leaving town at 7:30 am and getting back around 9:30 pm. All in all pretty good.

This morning, however, was when the real trouble started. I picked up a key to a bus from the shop, drove the school system van to the next town over (about 10 minutes drive) and went to the bus on the school lot. Opened the door fine, unlocked the back door fine, put the key into the ignition and tried to turn it – NOT fine. Jiggle the key a little bit, try to turn the key – nope not that. Run back to the back of the bus and double check the back door slide lock, return and try to turn the key again – nope not that. At this point, I was supposed to have left the schoolyard by that time – 6:10 am. Frantic call to the actual bus driver of the bus I was subbing on – her son was due to have surgery this morning. She came over to the yard and tried the things I did, in the order I did. We decided the key was defective and she gave me her key. Whee – 5 minutes late. I hightailed it out of the yard and miraculously made it to the first stop exactly 2 minutes late. I made up the rest of the time on the route and actually had time to wait about 10 minutes at the school. I guess that was my hitch for today!

Having a great School year so far!!
The Bus Driver

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gearing up for a new year.

Well school starts August 14 and none of us are looking forward to returing to the grindstone. Mostly due to some drama stuff that happened over last year will probably be re-hashed over the beginning of this year. UGH!. Other than that nothing new to report though I'm sure within a week, I'll have some interesting stories of frustration and fun to start off the year!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On Temporary Hiatis

Will be checking in off and on throughout the summer, but will not blog much until august, i am on vacation.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Open Letter

This is an open letter to any governor of any state. Please feel free to use this letter as a form to create your own letters to your state representatives and governor.

Dear Mr. Governor of your State,

I am a resident of Town, State located in County. One of my increasing concerns is the rise of the fuel prices as apparent across America. This fuel crisis has many counties looking at ways to conserve its resources. Among those in concern are transportation issues surrounding schools, or "How do we keep the school buses running on a limited budget?" I have an idea that may help the State cut back on its use of fuel in education transportation, but it needs to be included as an alternative to the current law.

Currently State Law (will vary by state but i put the number here) allows for 180 days of instruction to be required. There is no current mention as to the required hours of education per day a student must receive outside of the home school requirements. An option to decrease the use of fuel is the implementation of a 4-day school week. If the law were amended to include an opportunity for local school boards to implement a 4-day school week instead of a 5-day school week and base the education of students on hours of instruction instead of days, there would be a 20 percent decrease in the fuel usage of all school buses that transport children. It would also save the district money that can be used on other items, allow parents to schedule appointments for the "off" weekday, thereby increasing attendance, and provide for school districts to schedule teacher work days and other staff development days on the "off" days as well as allow teachers to offer a flexible tutoring schedule for those struggling students. A conversion to a 4-day school week would increase the amount of time spent in school per day by approximately 1 hour allowing teachers to spend extended time on subjects in which students typically struggle.

I hope that this alternative can be considered in the future of State's development toward a more sustainable future. I can be reached by telephone at 555-555-5555, or through email at.

Kindest Regards,

The Bus Driver.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Carnival Of Education

Step right up and see the newest Carnival of Education. There's lots of games and prizes to be had. My post on Behavior Issues and Parents is included in this carnival. Enjoy!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fuel Prices, School Buses, and 4-Day Weeks?

Its every child’s dream, a four-day school week. Why are schools considering this change over in their schedules? Simple. Money.

The cost of living is increasing every day. Inflation is hitting our grocery stores, gas pumps, and wallets. With the increase in everyday items, the schools are also feeling the pinch in budgeting their money wisely. As a result, items get cut from the budget, things get rearranged, and things tend to go from bad to worse. The solution? School weeks that are only 4 days long. Recently, this concept is becoming more and more attractive to school districts.

Across America, some school districts are considering this alternative to the budget problems.

This is not a new concept either, some districts considered this as a solution to the budget problems in the late 90’s.

Due to the increase in fuel prices, school districts are left scrambling to find money to run their School Buses. Many districts are struggling to finish out the current school year. Others are considering what to do for the 2008-2009 school year. Many districts are seeking alternatives, such as extending the distance students have to walk to school, eliminating some bus routes altogether in favor of a “walking school bus”, and considering the 4-day school week as listed above.

I am in favor of this alternative 4-day school week. The benefits that have been outlined by other school districts look promising. First off, there is the convenience of having a single weekday to schedule all those appointments. Secondly, attendance has been projected to increase due to the ability to schedule appointments on the “off” day – some school districts that have implemented this 4-day school week system have proved this projection. Third, money is saved from the decrease in the use of school buses, and decrease in the need to heat and cool schools. Lastly, the ability of schools to provide extra time for tutoring, sports, and other academic needs is increased with the flexibility of the weekday available, it also provides for the further development of staff reducing the need to have “staff only workdays”.

Financially Strapped,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Carnival of Education

At first when I saw this "Carnival of Education" on another blog, I wasn't entirely sure what it was. Now I realise its a whole bunch of useful information piled into a single blog, usually hosted by someone. Here is the current "Carnival" over at Educationwonk. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Behavior Issues and Parents

For those that don’t know, I substitute on the buses. I don’t have a regular route that I do, so I end up learning and doing many different routes. Because I am employed as a full time employee, my position is considered a “floater” because I bounce around on many different buses.

It seems though that behavior issues are much larger and more apparent today than they were 15 years ago when I was in elementary school. I seem to have a lot of kids who misbehave on the bus. The children who ride the bus break many of the bus rules. Common rules found on the bus are:

1. Observe same conduct as in the classroom.
2. Be courteous, use no profane language.
3. Do not eat or drink on the bus.
4. Keep the bus clean.
5. Cooperate with the driver.
6. Do not smoke.
7. Do not be destructive.
8. Stay in your seat.
9. Keep head, hands, and feet inside the bus.
10. Bus driver is authorized to assign seats.

All of these rules are posted on a yellow sheet inside most school buses.

While some of these rules seem outdated by the language, they pretty much apply across the board. Some of the more common, unwritten rules are:

1. Safety zones around the outside of the bus.
2. Quiet at the railroad crossings.

Every rider who gets on the school bus should take each of these rules seriously. It seems though more and more we get massive behavior problems from the students who ride. Yes, the bus driver takes certain credibility with how their bus behaves, but there are many kids who disregard the rules completely. The most common rules that are broke are the eating and drinking rule, and the stay in your seat rule. These rules are followed by the no profane language rule, and the conduct in the classroom rule.

Everyday I deal with children who will not stay seated, who cuss me out, who get into fights with each other, and who constantly eat and drink on the bus – leaving the trash all over the floor of the bus. In some buses, it’s an everyday occurrence with the SAME students. The buses in my district are equipped with cameras that catch the students every move. Many times the tapes are useful in showing the principal or assistant principal exactly what a student is doing on the bus. It’s also helpful when a parent comes to the bus shop or the school claiming their children “couldn’t have been the one” to misbehave. After all, little Suzy or Johnny is an “angel”.

I believe the increase in the misbehavior on school buses and in schools is largely due to the increase in children who believe they are “entitled”. Discipline isn’t what it used to be over 20 years ago because it is considered to be “abusive” and “negative” on the child’s psyche. This entitlement shift has been the main reason why it is now “someone else’s” fault for the child’s misbehavior. Parents don’t want to take responsibility and discipline their children appropriately for misbehavior due to the thinking that discipline is bad for children. Increasingly, the schools are at a loss as to what to do with the child who misbehaves. Excuses are made for behavior problems. “Alternative” schools are created to “allow” these behavior problems to have an education anyways. It’s like saying to a child, “Its ok you misbehaved, and you won’t be held accountable for your actions because there are other options for you.”

So now instead of taking an adult school bus driver’s word over the child’s, the tape is pulled from the bus and is used to show the behavior problem. Since WHEN is a camera and tape more important than an adult’s word over the children’s word?

Even so, children do not get removed from the riding PRIVILEGE or suffer the same consequences as many of us did when we were younger. We even cater to them by stopping “door to door” thereby wasting fuel and time. All respect is lost for adult authority because everyone makes excuses. Children will misbehave, but the excuses need to stop.

Excused out,
The Bus Driver

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Useless field trips

Well, the school year is over and boy do I have some fun experiences to tell about! (I realize this hasn’t been updated since October and I will make a more concerted effort to update more often from now on.) As I’ve mentioned before, I am a School Bus Driver. This comes with many responsibilities including field trips. Most fieldtrips are for sports (baseball, football, basketball, cheerleading, tennis, etc.) but a good portion of our field trips are for absolutely no good reason. In other words, they’re useless educationally. For example:

Throughout the year, we take the kids from school to school to see a play, to view the band, to get acquainted with the school they will be attending the next year, to…etc. The list goes on endlessly and most of these fieldtrips are a bust educationally.

September sent us to a Nature Center – not a bad field trip but still a waste of a day as the center was near 1 and a half hrs away.

October saw us going to a place where they had inflatable bouncy play things. Yep-REAL education there. We also took random fieldtrips to the local pumpkin patch and to the fire station (Pre-k through grade 3). It seemed like every class NEEDED to go on these field trips.

November sent the younger elementary (K-1) to the Civic center to see “Disney Princesses On Ice” – Yep really educational!

December saw us taking the 7th grade middle school to the Civic center to see “The Worlds Greatest Christmas Pageant” – We only got to see part of the first act and then the second act. An hour and a half of driving each way and a full day out of school to see… THIS?! Where’s the logic or the educational value?

December also saw us taking the kids to the movie theater to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. – Yet another fine educational experience. This one included popcorn and soda. When I asked what the educational value was to one of the teachers, she simply stated “Just because.”

February – Roller Skate Rink. Another “just because”. This was 6th grade middle school.

February – Pre-k to the new hospital – definitely educational but again something that wastes time.

April – Trip to an in-town nature trail… with Pre-k. (30 minutes) Then we went to a local playground for an hour and a half. Again the nature trail was not a bad thing to do, but with PRE-K?!?! Their teacher stated on the bus to them “We’re going to look for nature”. I wasn’t aware nature was missing?!?!

April also saw us taking the 8th grade middle school to a Federal Correction Institution. Yeah, we’re showing them their future home.
May was filled with useless fieldtrips as most of them were based off of “How much time can we use up just so we don’t have to teach.” We took grade 1 to the riverboat where they proceeded to run and scream all over the boat. The teacher had no control. Oh and then they went to a candy store. Again EDUCATIONAL VALUE? We also went to a minor league baseball game with the special education students. Apparently for no good reason at all. We also took trips to the bowling alley, and to the skating rink again (this time was pre-k through 5)

So why am I pointing out these field trips? Because our test scores are tanking and people are scratching their heads wondering why? I understand maybe one fun field trip per class, but I am only one bus driver in a fleet of 70 some odd people and each person has had their share of “stupid” field trips. How are taking stupid field trips going to help our kids get a leg up in life? If more time were spent on education in the classroom, the better our test scores would be.

Educationally concerned,
The Bus Driver