The school district I drive for, has an annual, kick off meeting, right before the start of each new school year. It is a typical kick off meeting, meant to create excitement, and start the year off with a positive uplifting vibe. At some point during these meetings, we are told that each of us make a difference in the lives of the children we interact with. From the custodians, and bus drivers, to food service, teachers and administrative staff. Individually and collectively, we make a difference. When the school bus drivers are specifically being addressed, we hear that we are the first school representative the child sees in the morning, and the last person at the end of their day. We have the potential to set a positive tone for the rest of their day.
While all of those things may be true, those words, those phrases, and the sentiments brought forth, all of them, at times, seem cliche and meaningless. We hear them from our administrators and supervisors, and when I’m training new drivers, I am certain I have spewed those exact phrases. I wonder if we are repeating them because we believe what is being said, or, if we are repeating them to convince ourselves they are true. It may be that both statements are accurate.
I greet each student that boards my bus, by name, and in return, I am met by varying degrees of responses. There are some students, who nod their head as they walk by, others grunt, or make some undistinguishable verbal acknowledgment, and, some greet me in the same way by which they were greeted. A similar ritual takes place in the afternoon, and again, I am met with an array of responses. Most of the time, my interaction with my students, seems, mundane and insignificant, and seldom seems like something that could make a difference in anyone’s life…until
I was standing just outside of my bus this afternoon, waiting for my new group of high school students to board the bus. As I stood there waiting, I heard my name being called, from a distance and looked in the direction the voice was coming from. I recognized Eric instantly and when my face lit up with recognition and I called out his name, he ran over to where I was and threw his arms around me. I knew in that moment, that indeed, I did make a difference in that child’s life and we do make a difference in our students lives. My words cannot adequately describe the joy, happiness, pride and gratitude I felt and continue to feel now.
We do make a difference!