Oklahoma school bus drivers are also part of the education system

I had the good fortune of teaching in public schools for 35 years in Oklahoma. I was a vocal music teacher, but I also taught bands, orchestras, musicals and even coached tennis at one point. These years in public education, particularly at Enid PublicSchools, have been rewarding and, above all, fun.

Now that I’m retired, I find the feeling fulfilling in other aspects of life — my family, my church, maybe a little fishing here and there. But when I started driving a bus seven years ago, I knew when I retired that was what I wanted to do.

Life is different after retirement, but it’s still rewarding. I probably have people sitting on the edge of their seats, begging for the answer to the question, “HOW can driving a bus be what you want to do after you retire?” In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be a “call.” I was looking forward to retirement, but was still earning a few extra bucks here and there.

I did not expect to meet children whose parents I taught not so long ago. I didn’t expect to have conversations that include “I went to high school with your grandpa!” with so many little children. Didn’t expect to make a difference, as did important connections with new students.

I think those who don’t work in the education system forget how much time we actually spend with our children. Every bus driver, cafeteria worker, secretary and teacher plays an important role for many Oklahoma children every day. We greet them when they arrive on the bus. We make sure they are properly fed before they go to class that morning. We take their temperature and give them bandages, and tell them to have a good afternoon when you leave and look forward to seeing them again the next day.

Bus drivers, along with many other support staff and teachers, make sure your students’ basic needs are met so they can focus on learning. You wouldn’t think that bus drivers play such an important role in this process, but we are! Every school day, every away game, every school outing, we work hard to make sure all students are safe and protected.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of fun too! I was a music teacher for 35 years; it wouldn’t be an excursion without a few carols or car games. And the guys I work with in Enid Public Schools Transportation are top notch – from our principal, Rick Moulton, to our secretary, Reeta Williams, to our amazing mechanics and all the other bus drivers, c is one of the best departments in the state. We love working together and we love working for the families of Enid.

I would like to end with a final thought: bus drivers really do a job that few people want to do. We are in the midst of a shortage, and those of us who show up to do the routes every day are working very hard, and mostly thankless work. But we love your children. No matter what district you are in, be sure to thank your student’s bus driver today.

Randy Johnson is a bus driver for Enid Public Schools.

Randy Johnson

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