Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Most Important School Employee....What Do You Think?

A wise woman asked me who I thought was the most important person in the school that children would encounter. My first thought was....everyone...each has a different role. But no, she would not accept that answer...too easy...name one person.

The school secretary...this person runs the school, knows how to solve problems, is the first person to greet an angry parent...lots of reasons. But no...this wise woman said she did not agree. "The most important person a child encounters for the school day is the bus driver. The bus driver is the first person to greet the student...and that could determine the rest of the day. It makes a difference if the bus driver opens that door and welcomes the student with a smile and genuine greeting."

 I pondered that and thought about the two bus drivers I had when I was in school. There was Mr. Lane. He was perfect. I only remember him stopping the bus one time because we got too rowdy. He spoke in a quiet voice and explained the reason we needed to stay in our seats. And then he drove us to school. ( He also gave each of us a huge Hershey bar for Christmas.)

 When Mr. Lane retired the next driver was Mr. Smith (not his real name). He was a grouch and yelled every day. I could usually expect a miserable ride to and from school. He drove too fast, stopped too fast and got angry too fast. Once he turned the corner near a corn field too fast and slid into a deep ditch. The big boys (high school kids...I was probably in 7th grade...well the big boys started rocking the bus and chanting "Smithy, Smithy, Smithy" as the bus would rock precariously to the side. I knew we were going to land in the ditch, and fortunately the bus was deep enough in so that when we did fall to the side we were at an angle and not flat on the side.   We all crawled out and waited for another bus to come get us. Of course, that was before buses could communicate for help, so Mr. Smith had to leave us and call for help at the next house. I can't imagine that happening today.

   I think of the bus drivers at the school where I taught...and Jaci comes to mind.  She always smiled and knew all of the students' names. That was because she also worked in the cafeteria as the cashier, greeting each student by name, with a smile and an encouraging word. What a wonderful way to begin the school day...stepping onto the bus to the smiling face of Jaci.
Jaci with her husband (note: beautiful smile)

Yes, the wise woman was right...that school bus drivers are an important beginning and ending to the students' day.  But we must not forget each part of the fabric of the school...custodians, cooks, counselors, teachers, media specialists, secretaries, principals....on and on....So many I will not even try to continue.  Each has an important role in the education of our students.  But for today...I say 'thanks' to the school bus drivers out there who greet each child with a smile....and a special thanks to Jaci.


  1. What a lovely tribute. It goes to show that it is really about the individual too and how they approach their job and children. I look around schools today and a lot of the joy is missing at times and it is a good reminder about how a smile goes a long way.

  2. I agree that school bus drivers have an important--and often underappreciated--role in students' education. Everyone involved in a school needs to remember how important it is to smile and welcome children to school, to make them feel cared for. As for teachers, the secretary and custodians are my go-to people when I need to know something or get something.

  3. Yes, the bus driver is truly an important figure for setting the tone of the day for students. Funny, but I have no memory of the bus driver and I was on the bus for an hour every day, going and coming. I guess we were too busy hand clapping and chanting to pay them any mind.

  4. As I began to read your slice I really thought you were going to write about the custodian. My first year of teaching my older cousin, who is retiring this year, told me that the most important person to make friends with was the custodian. I have found this to be good advice.

    As I read further, I couldn't help, but think that the most important person is every single one of us. Each person's attitude and smile or lack thereof makes a huge difference in the lives of the children we see each day.

  5. Jackie! I am blessed to be friends with your friend Jaci as well! I posted about her yesterday...she is becoming quite the slice of life star! I agree with the others who have commented, but I also agree with you. Willie was my driver and sitting right behind him on Bus 10 all those years was the safest place to be. Thanks so much for sharing this today!

    1. I have had this post saved as a draft for weeks and finally decided I would use it even though I wanted to work on it a bit more. Jaci had a way with the kids and they loved her.

  6. I love this...you honored the often overlooked in our schools - fine folks who keep our buildings and our school lives running smoothly. And they are such kind and lovely people...like Jaci.

  7. I can remember both kinds of bus drivers as well. I've always said driving a bus would be the hardest job. To sit with your back to so many children, try to get everyone home safely, and maintain a positive experience cannot be easy. I know my kids have had several bus drivers they just loved and it did make a big difference in their day. Jaci is amazing! She not only kept everyone smiling on her bus, but also in the cafeteria. Maybe I should write a slice about her as well for a trifecta! ;o)

  8. Beautiful tribute to Jaci. It is important to begin the day with a smile, my kids talk about who they like as drivers and why. Our custodian is a big influence in our kids. I always appreciate his hard work and character.