When we think about school, most of us think about a class of 20-25 (well...alright...27-30) students with a teacher. But, on Monday, I was reminded of how many other important people there are at school who impact kids every day.
I was walking towards the office when Anna radioed and said that Missy from bus 87 wanted to see me. I may have sighed and stomped my foot a little, automatically assuming the worst. I was sure that someone had done something on the bus that was going to require some consequences. In fact, when Missy saw me, the first thing she said was "This isn't for something bad!" I noticed, however, that her eyes were filled with tears so I invited her into my office to talk. She told me that she was moving to North Carolina within the next few weeks. That's when she burst into tears. She grabbed a tissue and said, "I've been wanting to tell you this for a while, but now that I'm moving I decided to come in and do it...bus drivers are never in the yearbook. I want to be in the yearbook. I love my kids. I've driven this route for 8 years and I've known some of these kids since they were babies. I want them to remember me and I want to remember them..."
I sat, staring at her in stunned, embarrassed silence. My head was swirling with thoughts, "How did I not realize that bus drivers weren't in the yearbook? How could I leave them out? They are so important! Missy doesn't think that I value her or the other bus drivers. This has to change!" After I pulled myself together I began rambling on about how terrible I felt and how much Missy and all of the drivers are appreciated. I told Missy that she would absolutely be in the yearbook and that all of the other drivers would be invited to come in to have their picture taken, too. Missy and I sat and chatted about her impending move and how nice the weather would be in North Carolina, all the while I could feel her sadness as she couldn't begin to think about how painful it would be to leave the children that she loved so much and drove to and from school each day for 8 years. "If you think this is a casual thing, maybe you should find some other work." This isn't a casual thing for Missy, I knew that for sure during our conversation.
As a parent and an educator, I want to remind all of us to appreciate the "unsung heroes," the bus drivers, custodians, school nurses, cafeteria workers, aides, secretaries, therapists, latchkey staff, psychologists and everyone else who impacts children's lives at school each and every day. Take a moment to think about all that goes into making a school day a successful one for a child. There are so many people who play such important roles in the education of our children.
As we work as a staff to define what it means to be ELITE, I ask you to reflect on your relationships.
Do you know our bus drivers' names?
Have you engaged them in conversations, even for a second or two?
Have you let them know that they're appreciated?
Our bus drivers are the first adults besides moms and dads that many of our children come in contact with each day. Our bus drivers help our students start and end their school days. Moms and dads trust our bus drivers to transport their most precious possessions to and from school every day. THIS is not a casual thing.
It's been a great week. Let's continue to get better each day.