School bus drivers across North Carolina will bask in well-earned attention next week during School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, as individual schools and districts recognize drivers’ key role with various events and celebrations. Nationally, February is Love the Bus month, aimed to raise awareness and appreciation for the safe experience of riding the bus to and from school.
Dozens of events are planned for next week across the state to honor drivers, from sit-down breakfasts to offerings of student-made valentines. Loyd E. Auman Elementary School in Cumberland County is organizing an ’80s flashback dance party at Seventy-First High School on Feb. 16 for all bus drivers in the school district. South Greenville Elementary School in Pitt County has scheduled an entire lineup of daily events starting Monday, when each bus driver will receive a bag of M&M’s with a note saying, “Thanks for Driving Miles & Miles.” In Craven County, Oaks Road Elementary School will be highlighting drivers on social media with shoutouts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson will join the festivities Monday morning with Pitt County Schools, where he’ll attend a breakfast at H.B. Sugg & Sam D. Bundy Elementary Schools in Farmville. Later that morning he’ll travel to Johnston County to greet students and bus drivers at Johnston County Early College Academy in Smithfield. On Thursday morning, he’ll join Wake County students riding their bus to Rogers Lane Elementary in Raleigh.
Additional details about these activities and many others planned across the state can be found on the 2018 Love the Bus Event listing.
In North Carolina, more than 750,000 students board over 13,000 school buses each day. Their drivers must complete rigorous training and be certified to drive a bus.
Kevin Harrison, transportation services section chief for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said the state’s bus drivers earn the week of recognition every day of the school year.
“School bus drivers are entrusted with a great responsibility: to safely transport our children to and from school each day,” Harrison said. “To do this, they must drive their students, watch out for them, listen to them and teach them. We ask so much of bus drivers every day. I hope that all students, parents and staff will take a moment to express their appreciation for the many things their bus drivers do.”
Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed Feb. 12-16 as School Bus Driver Appreciation Week in North Carolina, and urges all school communities to take a moment to thank bus drivers for all they do.
The Love the Bus program, launched in 2007 and coordinated by the American School Bus Council, is not only a way to raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers nationwide, but also provides an opportunity for parents and children to learn more about the safety and environmental benefits of school bus transportation.
Students nationwide are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely if they take the school bus instead of traveling by car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, school buses reduce traffic by keeping more than 17 million cars off roads each year, the American School Bus Council says, while also saving approximately 2.6 billion gallons of fuel.
Parents, teachers and children are encouraged to visit the American School Bus Council’s website to share stories about their favorite bus drivers and find a variety of other resources for honoring drivers.