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More to driving a school bus than driving PDF Print E-mail
Monday, September 16, 2013 12:07 AM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — No where else in the school system does anyone take on more responsibility for safety of the kids than the school bus driver who is a trained first responder and behaviorist that develops genuine relationships with the kids.

School bus driver Barb Haggard started driving in 1995 after she and her family moved back to Delphos.

“My mom was a bus driver,” Haggard explained. “With three boys getting into sports, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

 

Haggard said it took 10 years working as a sub before she received a contract and a daily route of picking kids up and dropping them off. She also began to drive kids to and from field trips and sporting events.

 

“My first route was for kids from Delphos who had minor behavioral issues,” Haggard detailed. “These kids were abandoned, lost and had no help at home.”

She says she developed a connection to some of them who she sees once in a while.

“A couple of them are doing alright,” she said. “It’s nice that they found success.”

Haggard said that when the kids come on the bus she and the kids say hello, use first names and speak eye to eye.

“They may have already had a bad morning with Mom and Dad,” Haggard said. “When I drop them off, I tell them to have a good night.”

As for bullying, Haggard and all bus drivers have had in-services to handle those situations.

“I watch which kids instigate or I hear comments and correct the kids,” she said. “If problems persist, I go to the building principal and the superintendent and we all work as a group to help.”

After acquiring her full-time position at the Thrift Shop, she was allowed to continue with her morning route. Haggard drives a big snub-nose bus with a white top each school morning to the southwest corner of Delphos to pick up 30-40 kids.

“They are good kids and most parents are real cordial,” Haggard said.

When Haggard went for her commercial drivers license [CDL] in 1995, she had to go through four different written tests: driving, air brake, passenger/chauffeur and school bus. The road-time test involved parallel parking, regular driving, rail road track protocols, drop-offs and pick ups and emergency training.

“We had eight hours of training on things like using an epi-pen and diabetics,” she stated.

She also had to memorize 88 or more parts to a bus including the motor, suspension and tires.

“We have to know if something looks or sounds wrong with the vehicle,” Haggard stated. “Before pulling out of the garage, we inspect the buses each day.”

School bus drivers must be re-certified every six years and go through the same process each time. During re-certification, an On-Board Instructor (OBI), a bus driver that goes through extra in-service, would be employed to help drivers prepare for the testing. The testing takes place on site [bus garage] and the driving part of the testing is done in town with their own buses.

“They [OBI] are very encouraging,” Haggard said.

When it comes to weather-related incidents, Haggard said that she remembers misjudging backing up and getting stuck in ‘a lot of snow’ in a small ditch. She used a 2-way radio to speak directly with the superintendent and Rodoc.

“I entertained the kids while we waited for assistance,” Haggard said. “The kids stayed on the bus while the Rodoc mechanics used a wench to pull us out of the ditch.”

Haggard said that buses help each other in emergencies.

“One may break down and a driver will go pick up the kids and get them to school or home,” she stated.

She said that bus drivers are not permitted to use mobile phones on school buses but carry one just in case of an emergency.

“There may be a late-night ball game out of town and the bus doesn’t start,” she explained. “The 2-way radio won’t work and I can use the mobile to call for assistance.”

Haggard said being a school bus driver has been a social and cultural experience for her.

“I’ve heard little sob stories about farm animals,” She said. “Some of the younger kids wanted me to play rap and hard rock music.”

Last Updated on Monday, September 16, 2013 12:14 AM
 

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