51 Years as a School Bus Driver
Caroline Davis start as a school bus driver was unplanned, but since that day 51 years ago, she has gotten behind the wheel and driven Minidoka kids to school—day after day, year after year. It has certainly been a labor of love for Davis, and the lives of the children she has worked with are much the better for it.
“My dad was a school bus driver and one day they needed a substitute, so the shop foreman asked me,” Davis recalls. “I was expecting my first child at the time, but I wriggled my way into the driver’s seat and off I went, she says. That child, daughter Coleen Jones, now works for the school district. Davis also has a son, Robert, who recently retired from the National Guard.
School bus drivers are among the larger group falling under the classification of Education Support Professionals, which make up a very important subset of IEA members. These hard-working and dedicated professionals are an integral part of the team that helps students grow and succeed.
“Bus drivers are the first people students see in the morning, and we can set up their day for them,” Davis notes. “What would a school be without ESPs? With no bus drivers, no janitors, no cooks, and all the other employees?”
Davis has driven several different routes during her long tenure behind the wheel. For the last 15 years she has been primarily driving special needs students. Her load is down to about half a dozen kids this year after the district did away with the practice of open enrollment. She typically comes in early and puts on coffee for the other drivers before heading out on her route, and she is held in high regard by her colleagues. “I think all of the transportation employees look up to her as a mentor and an example, says Minidoka Education Association past-president Maria Fassett.”
Davis has been a building representative for many years, and when the school district was looking into privatizing their transportation services, she helped mobilize employees to show just how valuable they are to the students and the community. “Caroline has always been very active in sharing information about the MCEA and IEA with new hires,” Fassett says. “She distributes materials and information to the team and is a great recruiter for the Association.”
Minidoka is a fairly small community about midway between Twin Falls and Pocatello. Since it is largely a rural area, the country roads Davis drives have their own idiosyncrasies. “Getting stuck in the snow is a pretty common issue around here and it has happened to me quite a few times,” Davis says. “There’s really nothing you can do except wait for the tow truck to come and pull you out.” Her route takes about two hours to complete when weather doesn’t interfere.
Tight-knit is a good way to describe the community, which makes Davis’ philosophy about her job unsurprising. “I have enjoyed every one of the children I have hauled,” she says. “I really get attached to the kids; they are like family.”