Today, this week or any school day, Scottsdale Unified School District encourages saying a kind word to school bus drivers who greatly impact operations.
With more than 367,000 safe rides covering over 509,000 miles of road on 53 general education routes and 28 special needs routes, according to a press release, citing numbers through this March, bus drivers are the first SUSD employees to greet students each school day and the last to bid them farewell in the afternoon.
The contributions of SUSD’s 80-member bus driver team are so much more, and the reason the district is taking time to recognize School Bus Drivers Appreciation Day on April 27, the release said, advising to thank the drivers for the rest of the week.
“Transportation is some of the most challenging work that school employees are involved with. The skills that are required and developed, the credentials that are required and the daily commitment of every team member, from driver to bus aide to mechanic and operations staff, speaks to the quality of the individuals responsible for getting our students to and from school each and every day,” said SUSD Transportation Department Director Brendan Wagner in a prepared statement.
“It’s kind of like they’re your own kids – you can tell when they’re having a good day or a bad day. I just try to greet them kindly and let them know that that scraped knee is not the end of the world and they’ll be fine,” said a bus driver for SUSD since 2004, Louie Annunziata, in a prepared statement.
Driving Copper Ridge School and Desert Mountain High School students for the past 10 years, he has been working a split shift from 6 to 9 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., the release said of Mr. Annunziata, who is a former Brooklyn, New York resident.
From noting how his riders “get a kick out of seeing their 84-passenger Blue Bird bus decked out for seasonal celebrations,” to recalling warm greetings received several years ago after returning to work from medical leave, he appreciates the students and their families.
SUSD bus drivers volunteered for duties related to the COVID-19 pandemic before SUSD in-person learning began for preschool, special education and kindergarten through fifth grade students in September 2020 and for grade 6-12 students the following month.
They partnered with SUSD Nutrition Services to deliver student meals weekly, assisted the information technology department’s help desk for setting students up for distance learning, and helping clean and paint school buildings.
“I am in awe of the team of people with whom I have the honor to work daily,” Mr. Wagner added. “There simply are not words that can adequately express my appreciation and admiration for what goes on every day in this department.”