Thank You to the Best Bus Driver Ever

images (15)When we send our children to school, we naturally worry about their education. Who will their teacher be? What classes are they in? Will they succeed? What will they learn? Are they happy? Will they make friends? What is their day like when they are away from  home? And the list goes on and on…

I don’t think that I ever gave a second thought about my children’s bus driver.   And yet, much to my great pleasure, my children were fortunate to have one of the best bus drivers ever, Ben.

“Writing on the slate of a child” is one of my favorite expressions when I talk about the adults in the world, who have the privilege of working with children. Ben is one of those unanticipated authors on my children’s slate, that has had a profound and lasting impact, for which, I am very grateful.

“Ben” as he is affectionately known to everyone who meets him, has been instrumental in teaching my children (and many more) respect. He drives a bus full of fifth through eighth grade students to and from school, everyday. We have been lucky to have Ben be our bus driver for many years, beginning with my oldest who is now in high school, and now sadly ending this year as my twin boys leave the eighth grade.

How does he do it, you might ask. The school bus, as we know, can be less than an ideal experience for too many reasons to mention.  And yet, we have never had a “bus issue” on Ben’s bus.   Ironically, the short ride to school is an  important highlight of the day.

Ben is a friendly, quiet, unassuming man, who appears to be near retirement age. I can see the bus stop from my house as it is at the end of my driveway. The first time I noticed that this bus driver was different was several years ago when I watched my boys stand back and let the girls get on the bus first. When this continued to happen day after day, I was shocked, but  I soon learned that Ben simply said, “ladies before gentlemen” and that was that. Today, this simple manner, this simple sign of respect and polite behavior is ingrained in the boys.   I have witnessed the boys waiting, even if one of the girls is running late, literally running down the street, she will enter the bus before they do.

Ben talks to the kids about history and sports. He greets them daily and shows a genuine interest in them as people, not just bus passengers. Once you are one of Ben’s students, you are his for good. Several times this year, we received newspaper clippings from the local paper if one of our kids accomplishments was published.  I can still see my oldest daughter’s smile when she received a newspaper photo of her playing volleyball, sent home with her younger brothers.  Ben told her to keep up the good work.

Ben drives to sporting events for the high school, and you better believe there is one more fan in the stands as he watches our home town teams play. It is such a treat to watch the older students come over to say hello to their former driver, a man they clearly adore and respect.

Maybe Ben’s success has something to do with his wave. No matter where you pass the bus, or if it is parked in the school lot, Ben always gives a wave. Not just a hand in the air, the kind of wave that makes you believe that he is genuinely happy to see you.

I overheard my boys talking about a “new student” who was acting up and giving Ben some grief on the bus. I asked the twins, what did Ben do? Their reply was “Nothing, as eighth graders, we told the kid to knock it off, no one messes with Ben.” Respect, genuine interest, caring, friendliness, are all attributes that are working for Ben and are translating to our children ~ you can’t ask for better.

Today, I ran into Ben at the supermarket, and as always we exchanged our pleasantries, questioned the terrible weather we are having and then as he headed down another aisle he turned and said,”you have some mighty fine boys”.  I blurted back, “well, you are a mighty fine bus driver”.  And then, realizing that I may be sounding ridiculous, I added, “I don’t know how you do it.” To this Ben replied, “Ahh, it’s nothing, I really like the kids.” “I know, I said, that is definitely the key, and you know what, they really like you, too.”

And so it goes, we cannot script every message that gets written on children’s slates and some messages I’m sure we would erase if we could.  It makes it all the more special when a great person shows up in our children’s lives and writes something you hope never washes away.

Today I want to thank my children’s school bus driver, Ben.   I wish there was a prize, or an award, but I’m sure it wouldn’t matter at all to Ben. I’m just glad and grateful that we have had the best bus driver ever.


9 responses to “Thank You to the Best Bus Driver Ever

  1. He truly is the best bus driver ever! I one time had a substitute bus driver. I felt weird walking off the bus without a “Goodbye” or “have a nice day.” I can’t imagine a bus ride without him!

  2. Ben is truly the best. I know the day starts on the right foot for me with a wave and a smile from Ben. Lovely tribute to a gentle man doing a big job!

  3. I wish there was a Best Bus Driver Award… Ben would win hands down! Thanks for the comments!

  4. That is really cool! I remember the bus drivers when we were kids, they actually cared about us, they were our teachers and our coaches. Flash forward 20 years to the same school district I went to, my kids now go there, it has exploded in growth (I graduated with 68 kids in my class, my 1st grade daughter will graduate with over 700.), and I have never really gotten to know our bus drivers. At this point I am thrilled if they pick the kids up on time and follow safety rules to get them there. I have taken my girls a lot this year because of the cold weather and followed our bus through 3 stops – no flashers, no stop sign. I was on the phone with the school within minutes. I wish we had a bus driver like Ben or like any of my old bus drivers. Stopping by from SITS.

  5. I am teary-eyed over here…but in the absolute best way. Thank you for such an awesome, heart-felt post. I used to substitute teach long-term for an SXI special education class at our neighborhood middle school, and I considered it such a privilege to have an opportunity to have an impact on students’ lives — that was how I approached each school day.

    Fast forward several years, and now I am the mother of two (a boy 30 months, and a girl almost 6 months) and it is my greatest hope that they, too, will come to know educators and staff like Ben.

    Kuddos to Ben…and to you for acknowledging him.

    (Stopping by from #SITSSharefest.)

    • Thank you for your kind comment… as you know, some posts just write themselves. Whether I am teaching, coaching and even as a Mom, I always keep the mantra “it is a privilege to write on a child’s slate” in my head. Granted some days I write, rewrite, erase but overall I hope the marks I have left and continue to leave will be good ones! It is hard to send our children out into the world, with that big blank slate, so it is imperative to recognize the Ben’s of the world!

  6. Wonderful!! Bus drivers are amazing people and some are just outstanding at what they do. Thanks for sharing this story.

  7. Ben has been the Bus Driver for all three of my girls. We actually have him the first annual “Smitty” Award, which we created in honor of the amazing Bus Driver from my childhood. Ben is sincere and caring, and I agreewith Lisa’s post. WELL DONE, BEN. WE LOVE YOU!!!! The Broders: Chuck, Pam, Jenny, Abby, and Kelly

  8. Samantha Mulcahy

    How nice of you to acknowledge Ben in this way. We feel so lucky to have him as our kids’ bus driver too. He deserves all this recognition and more. Thank you!

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