School bus safety

penibide's version from 2017-02-28 04:55


As a kid I LOVED Wonder Woman. It wasn’t just because of her fantastic strength and powers unknown to the common man, or woman. Rather, it was because of the representation that she provided for young girls, like me, who were just REALLY into superhero comics. Growing up I was like most kids, lacing my light up Skechers shoes before taking a running jump off my bed to see if I could fly. However, it wasn’t until I met my long time driver Mrs. Patty that I realized what it really meant to be a superhero. In middle school I had a lot of friends, well if you count my beanie babies that is , but Mrs. Patty was a constant mentor and smiling face through my struggling and awkward pre-teen years. This is something that wasn't just unique to me, but is a common theme for school bus drivers all over the nation. Ty Coppola, a 19 year old with Down Syndrome from Fairport, New York tells the story of his own superhero - Scott Reynolds, his bus driver. To Ty, Scott became a “constant” and taught him a lesson on safety that was more than any seat belt could provide. While Wonder Woman might be working to keep the people of the tri-state area safe, students are lucky to have their very own super hero just a few stops away. Despite school bus drivers playing a pivotal role in the safety and stability of students, many people don't acknowledge or appreciate their heroism. Safety has a lot of different meanings; from literal protections to a defensive position in football. What my Wonder Woman, Mrs. Patty taught me is that there are 2 kinds of safety on a school bus. First, we will set up the force field and take note of the physical safety on and around the bus, Second we will find our own justice league and understand the importance of social/emotional safety on the bus, Finally we will resist our kryptonite and find a solution to recognize the importance of our local safety heros.
Living by the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” is something all too fitting for school bus drivers nowadays. However, while there isn’t a Joker or Riddler threatening our streets, there are still real threats posed against the schoolbus’ 30+ kids. Instances of physical danger that School bus drivers confront have many different faces, but one of the most prominent features are those of distractions and dangers. School bus drivers deal with distractions both on and off the bus and yet are ignored for their risks. Mrs. Patty was very strict about the no food and drinks on the bus rule. However, as pseudo upperclassmen - most of my friends often committed the very rebellious action of eating goldfish on the bus. Mrs. Patty almost never caught on because they did the whole ‘hide chip bag in their backpack then yawn and drop food in mouth’ strategy. However, one day a classmate of mine, Mackenzie, began to choke on her food and wasn’t able to breathe. Mrs. Patty immediately jumped into action and did all the appropriate safety moves necessary to help Mackenzie stop choking and be able to breathe again. Following this incident Mrs. Patty was much more strict about the eating policies on the bus and started to teach her students basic heimlich maneuvers and took better steps to maintain our personal safety like putting our bags under the seat. Despite her lacking of a glittery unitard or unearthly powers - from that moment on, Mrs. Patty was evidently a safety superhero to me.
The Superman Action Comics had it wrong when they said “it’s a bird” or “it’s a plane” because in reality it something much more impactful - a school bus driver. Mrs. Patty was my bus driver from 6th - 8th grade and her compassion was something that I could never forget, she made it look cool to follow the rules. Safety has many forms - especially in the developmental stage that children riding school busses are in. Thomas Armstrong in his book The Best Schools, tells us that the social stability and safety throughout K-12 plays a pivotal role in the development and personal proficiency of these students. This time in their lives is important - and the school bus is an important area where growth can occur. For me, personally, assigned seats were something that was a constant during my time on a bus. Assigned seats were the opportunity to make new friends and get the chance to look out a new window! Making new friends either every 9 weeks or every semester was a fun opportunity to try new things. This practice is supported by severing the unprecedented notion that assigned seats are a repercussion to bad behavior. It was the experience of assigned seats that made Mrs. Patty a safety hero. Maintaining a safe social practice in a setting that played such an important role in cognitive development of children is an action that only superheroes can vouch for.
Though I have yet to see Mrs. Patty fly or stop a train - I am still convinced she is a super hero! To me, Mrs. Patty was most like Clark Kent saving the sinking school bus in Man of Steel, but unfortunately without the town recognition. A survey taken by renowned nonprofit organization EducationWorld notes that school bus drivers are one of the most important, but unappreciated careers in the status quo. Taking into account the daily service they provide for our families and our education it is heartbreaking to know that in places like Raleigh North Carolina, Augusta Georgia and even as close to home as Dallas Texas - countless protests have sparked over the pay, treatment, and appreciation of our school bus drivers. From Today on It is important that we FLY and appreciate our local safety heros. FLY - F, L, Y. F - Fix people’s perceptions of their drivers. If you hear someone disrespecting them, ask them to stop. L - love your bus drivers; Laugh with them, and learn with them. Use your time on a school bus as more than just a requirement but a blessing. Y - you are the solution. As students, drivers and administrators in this room it is important that we all come together and recognize our safety heros. Afterall, superheros don’t just come in and protect a life, they stay and save the town.