On Monday, Saskatchewan celebrated those workers with its second annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Schools across the province presented their bus drivers with special gifts in recognition of their service.
“We have nine buses, I believe, that come to our school,” École Vickers School teacher, co-chair and bus organizer Sandra Williams said. “From a teacher/co-ordinator’s point of view, we wouldn’t be able to do our job in our building if it weren’t for our bus drivers transporting the students to our schools. So we’re extremely grateful for that.”
Each bus driver receives a pin from their respective school division. Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division No. 119 transportation supervisor Ryan Bruce encourages schools to recognize their drivers in whatever way they choose.
Last year, Williams gave Vickers drivers coffee mugs and cards. This time around, she presented them with large tins of Crème de Pirouline chocolate hazelnut rolled wafers.
Driver Cheryl Delgadillo, who drives Bus 31 to and from Vickers every school day, maintained that her school makes her feel appreciated all-year-round.
“I’ve always been very lucky … Vickers has been very good to the drivers,” she said. “When the teachers and the drivers and our supervisors at the bus garage all work together, it makes the job really come together … great. So it’s not just one day, it’s all year … We have a really good bus co-ordinator at the school, and that makes the job a lot easier too, and the teachers come out to supervise the kids to get on the bus, so that’s really great.”
We wouldn’t be able to do our job in our building if it weren’t for our bus drivers transporting the students to our schools. So we’re extremely grateful for that. - Sandra Williams
Delgadillo drives a 55-minute route twice each day in the morning and afternoon. She started driving a school bus three years ago after switching from a career in retail management. As a Spark leader and former commanding officer of an Air Cadets squadron, the idea of working with children held appeal.
For Delgadillo, the main challenge of her job is good student management while still watching the road and getting everyone where they need to go safely.
“My bus is pretty mellow,” she said. “I’ve had most of these kids for three years already. It’s just I’ve got a few new ones this year, and right on the first week of school, we kind of established what you can and can’t do on the bus, and then if there’s problems beyond that, Sandra helps us deal with it and the problems go away, usually.”
School bus drivers come from all different walks of life. Many are retirees. Some have a military or police background, while others worked in education.
The job can attract single parents because of schedule flexibility. One is able to drive a school bus in the morning and afternoon, with the option in-between of doing field trips for other schools. Many drivers work second jobs during the day.
“This is a secondary job or a primary job, depending upon which job you look at,” Williams said. “But it affords our bus drivers the opportunity to be engaged with something they’re excited about doing, yet still have time during the day to do what they want to do.”