When was the last time you took a ride in a yellow limo, a cheese wagon, or what some of us have been known to affectionately call the big twinkie? Yes, I am talking about that timeless symbol that traverses our roads each school day—the yellow school bus. Over the years, school has changed a lot. Typewriters have been replaced by computers, one phone line in the front office has grown to phones in each classroom, and now, cellphones, iPads and other tablets are everywhere. The big three sports of football, basketball, and baseball have seen countless additional and equally exciting sports added to the mix. And finally, let us not forget, some more quickly than others, the use of corporal punishment and the “paddle” (thanks Mr. Ashford…I think) that has been relegated in most areas to a symbol of days gone by. Yet, the school bus remains…
With this icon in mind, I have set a goal this year to renew the enthusiasm I had as a child. You all remember it, the desire to seek that first step into the world of big girls and boys—to ride the school bus. Thus, at the encouragement of several of our drivers, I have hopped on a few routes this year. I have had the pleasure to ride with students from CFES, OCPS, and OCES so far and I must say that things have remained remarkably the same. The ride is still a little bumpy, the bus is still the brightest thing on the road, and the smaller the student the more excited they are to being traveling in it.
Yet, I also learned very quickly that, as it was in my childhood, the bus is a place where one can learn many life lessons and pick up quite a few interesting facts. As I traveled safely down the road with our students, I was able to visit and talk with many. One student was quite excited to share that his mommy put him on the bus in the mornings and was there to meet him each afternoon. Upon hearing this, another student quickly pointed out that his mother was a nurse. Finally, a young man said, “I am not sure what my mommy does. All I know is that she eats and works out a lot!” With a smile on my face, I shared that I too enjoyed eating a lot, but needed to renew my focus on the work out. He said quickly and as kids are apt to do, “I am sure my mommy could teach you.”
So the next time you see one of our buses going down the road, take a minute to reflect on your experiences on the big cheese and give a little wave. Who knows? I may be inside with our kids, listening and learning their stories. If so, rest assured, it will be the best part of my day.