The “People Who Go To Work Earlier Than I Do” series continued today with an upstanding member of the Bemidji School Transportation team, Sheryl!
I arrived at the bus garage on 15th St. NW around 5:20 a.m. and hopped on the bus, where we drove way out into the Solway Elementary School Area before going to Bemidji High School then a transfer to Trek North.
Sheryl has been a bus driver for more than 30 years, explaining that her own children grew up on a school bus as she brought them along her route in their car seats.
Now, her daughter also drives a bus!
She says she loves the job because she enjoys driving big vehicles and the schedule suits her, despite the early hours. Between the morning and afternoon routes, she can go home to take care of things or work ahead of her summer bus driver responsibilities by repairing bus seats.
We started picking up kids a little after 6 a.m. and boy, did those kids have some questions for me! Usually in my line of work, it’s the other way around.
Sheryl says the most crucial aspect of being a bus driver is forming a connection with the kids and talking with them. It takes all kinds, she often said along our route this morning, and drivers should know the kids they haul around.
“They’re kids, they’re loved,” Sheryl said. Bus drivers are the first interaction many kids have with Bemidji Area Schools on each school day.
She spoke of her coworkers who have designated routes and go that extra mile for the kids.
“Leo, he knows their families, probably hauled the kids’ parents when they were going to school!”
Sheryl right now is a sub-driver, filling in as the district is facing a critical bus driver shortage.
She joked that a bus driver job would be great for bug collectors, as the windshield is peppered with the remains of various insects.
If you think being a bus driver would suit you fine, Bemidji Transportation will hold a job fair June 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. Multiple bus driver and mechanic positions are open now, and there will be a small closed course for people to drive a bus!