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