Bus drivers. For some, bus drivers are the catalysts in which they arrive to school, and to others, they are the brave souls who transport a load of children.
Bus Driver Roger Atkinson chose this newfound career path with a little push from his wife. “I had retired and my wife was driving me crazy so I needed to get out of the house,” said Atkinson.
For Atkinson’s own sanity, his retirement went on a hiatus. “I traded one for the other, and I’m not sure if it’s worth it or not,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson described being a bus driver as fairly flexible. He said after dropping students off at school in the morning, he can choose if he would like to make trips during the day before he picks his students up to take home in the afternoon.
Jim Reed, a bus driver for the LSR7 school district, said being a bus driver is fun and gives him something to do after he retired from his job as an engineer.
“I enjoy meeting all of the kids, and meeting all of the new students every year,” said Reed. He said he tries to go to as many football and basketball games as he can to support the athletes on his bus.
Bus driving is a way Reed can see societal changes, “When I take trips with these kids, it gives me a chance to see things that I didn’t have in school.” Some of these newly acquired activities he has observed include debate and volleyball for girls.
Bus drivers, since they are driving children, have to go through tests and meet particular requirements. “There’s a lot of rules and regulations- more than you can dream of,” said driver Mike Foland.
Some of these rules and regulations required drug screening, alcohol tests, and making sure someone is suited to work with a large vehicle.
Foland, like many, chose bus driving as an avenue to fill his time after he retired. He said there is good insurance that goes along with the job as well.
Foland was never around children too often, but he said he has grown to enjoy getting to know them. “Some of the trouble ones are a thorn in your side, but there are some that are pretty neat kids,” he said.
A part of Reed’s job description is making the 30 minutes his students spend on the bus pleasant. He wakes up early to get his bus spick and span and toasty for the students who have to endure the cold winter mornings.
Reed did without heaters, and “plush seats,” when he rode the bus as a child and wants to alter the experience his students have on the bus.
One of the first faces Reed’s passengers see is his in the morning, and he wants that interaction to be positive. He is honored to be a bus driver.