Bus drivers and transportation aides say their work is ‘very rewarding’
Most people do not know about the unique partnership that happens on every bus route that serves our special education and preschool students. Bus drivers are partnered with transportation aides that ensure that our most precious cargo is safely buckled up and cared for throughout the ride.
“It is wonderful,” said Katye Grant, an eight year veteran BVSD bus driver. “It helps me drive, while they take care of the kids, especially the ones that are a little over active. Sometimes there are students who don’t want to stay in their star seats.”
She says that driving can be unnerving, because other drivers are careless, darting around and sometimes cutting off buses because they don’t want to be stuck behind them in traffic.
“You have to be awake and aware There are bullets coming at you all the time. You have to dodge them,” Grant explained. “We are constantly looking around. The less we have to do with the children, the better.”
That can be extremely difficult with our youngest students who can get a bit fidgety during the ride.
“Right now I have a first grader who has to be in a star seat because she gets up and move around. I always have to keep watch to make sure that she doesn’t try to get out,” said BVSD Transportation Aide Sheri Noterman. “We entertain them by chatting with them, singing with them or playing games, like ‘I spy.’”
Transportation aides receive CPR and Crisis Prevention Institute training and are responsible for ensuring that students are loaded safely, including making sure that wheelchairs are fully secure.
“I always double check and I always sit back by the student in the wheelchair to make sure,” Noterman said.
BVSD, of course, transports students with a variety of needs.
“It is a learning experience every year because you have different kids every year,” Noterman said.
The daily success is thanks to a tremendous amount of team work between the bus driver and transportation aide.
“We are all a team. We can’t do it without each other,” Noterman said.
“We have to be a team. I have an aide, where I can just look at her and she can know exactly what I need. I can look in the mirror and she has it,” Grant added.
Additionally, they rely on strong partnerships with paraprofessionals at the school and the students’ parents.
“Recently, I had this kid get out of their seat and they were in distress and we couldn’t figure out why. We finally got him sat down and once we got him to the parent’s house and they spotted that the windows were open. 'He doesn’t like the windows open.”
Noterman is constantly working to make connections with her students, whether they are non-verbal, are sensitive to certain triggers or need to be lifted into the bus. She says one of the most difficult years was when she had three students in wheelchairs on one route, but no matter how challenging it is, she says the kids make it all worthwhile.
“It is very, very rewarding. The kids are awesome,” Noterman said. “Most of the tie it is a happy situation and you just want to be there to help them.”
“I really enjoy it,” Grant added. “You really get to know the kids. I’ve seen a few of them graduate.”