Three cheers to the bus drivers … and all the rest
By Eric Fox, Associate Principal Jenks High School
I’ve had the privilege of being a substitute bus driver this school year and from these experiences, I’ve gained a new appreciation for what they do for our students. I have also thought more about many others who help make sure our Trojans are safe and cared for.
I’ve been amazed at what you can tell about our transportation department just from the radio traffic. The radio is buzzing with chatter and coordination that might rival an air traffic control tower. There are drivers helping transport thousands of students across multiple sites throughout the district and I’m struck by how much they know about their students along with their siblings, their neighborhoods, what bus they rode last year, their stops, their classroom teachers and so much more. Our drivers not only maneuver through South Tulsa and Jenks traffic but also navigate their “classroom on wheels” and all the additional safety protocols in place. I know many of our drivers enjoy the opportunity to engage students and, I’ve loved to greet students as they get on and then wish them a good evening when they disembark. I’ve also had a literal front row seat to witness some of what makes our students so great.
For example, yesterday I drove a bus of high school students back from one of the partner Tulsa Tech campuses. A student had set her drink down on the bus seat beside her so she could throw it away later. It tilted just a bit on the ride and unbeknownst to her, a little of the liquid had spilled on the seat. It wasn’t more than just what was left in the bottom of the can, but it would have meant a seat that was a little sticky in the morning. Rather than just getting off and heading out for the rest of her evening, she asked if she could stay behind and clean out her seat. I couldn’t hear her well with her mask on and by the time I got back to where she was, she had already taken out some wipes she had in her bag and started cleaning. I would not have turned her in to “the authorities” for leaving a sticky seat and she wouldn’t have had any consequences, but her character shone through and she showed the type of respect and consideration for herself and others that we could all learn from.
Our bus drivers get to witness these incredible gestures from students each day, and they model consideration for others as they are often the first “face” of the district students and families encounter. However, it isn’t just bus drivers that serve our students in such a wonderful way. We have countless numbers of staff working in child nutrition, playground and lunch room monitors, nurse’s offices, athletic care, media centers, maintenance, front offices, counselors, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals and even regular substitute teachers. Our students are not only transported but they are fed, taught and cared for by a cadre of adults who are investing in their growth as Trojans and members of this community. They are intentionally connecting with kids daily and meeting a multitude of needs. As a parent of three Jenks grads and as a fellow member of the team, I am so grateful for the effort on behalf of our children. These connections keep us moving down the road in true Trojan style!