The school year got off to a very rocky start for me. Last week you'd have thought I was a newbie at this. I missed kids and had to go around the block. They gave me kids that belonged on the next route over so I drove around the block. I drove in so many circles I was dizzy. The radio is always very busy the first week with parents calling in looking for their kids. I was getting calls and I hadn't left the school yet! After I left the school other drivers were getting calls and half the kids they were looking for were with me! We changed all of the routes this year to fill up the buses and save money. Everyone got to where they were supposed to be safely.
A big problem for me was all of the kids that were driven to school in the morning (or rode in on a different bus) and I had to figure out who was who to get them home. One little boy, Matthew, got on and was not on my list but his bus tag had my number. I asked him where he lived and he shocked me by giving me an address. An address at least five miles further out than I go. But he followed that up with, "But you're taking me to grandma's!" He didn't know where grandma lived. After a few calls back and forth to the school and I had an address. In getting the kids seated I missed the call to his morning bus looking for him. The other driver got on his PA and asked if Matthew was on and a little hand went up so he radioed back that he had him. They told him to keep him on the bus because he should have been on my bus. They called him back with the address that I had just gotten from the very confused school secretary, and asked if he could get him there at the end of his route. I heard this call and responded that Matthew was on my bus and I would be at Grandma's in five minutes. Now everyone was confused but Matthew got to where he needed to go with a smile on his face. I was so relieved to have Matthew straightened out that I drove right past the house of the next student, whom I had last year too. Around the block we went.
I have just a high school route and an elementary route - no middle school. Middle school age is not my group, so I'm happy. I have two boys on the HS route that are determined to push my buttons and I'm just as determined not to let them get to me. I have 50% new to me kids on that route too. The first couple of days the two groups segregated themselves but now they are all mixed together and seem to be getting along. What a great group of kids and what a pleasure to not have to yell sit down, leave them alone or get out of the aisle for an hour!
Today everything went like clockwork. The kindergartners are still taking a long time to get seated and get up and off at their stops but that's to be expected. Parents were thrilled when I arrived a half hour earlier today than I did last Wednesday. My fourth graders can't seem to get along and I've never had so much trouble with hitting. But over all the little ones are a great group too. With so many new kids it took me the first week but I think I've learned everyone's names. There was a little girl that didn't want to go today and I asked her to tell me her name again. I was certain she said Erin and I so I kept talking to her and using her name to try and reassure her. Finally one of the older kids that got on with her had had enough and yelled at me, "Her name is Ariel!" I'll keep working on those names........