School Bus Fleet

October 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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68 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • O C T O B E R 2 0 1 4 I t had been a rough day for Valerie Robertino. It was a Tuesday evening, early June, in St. Petersburg, Florida, and she was ready to get home. Then she pulled up behind a school bus with its red lights fashing and its stop arm ex- tended. Robertino looked alongside the bus and didn't see any kids getting off. She was impatient. "What's the holdup?" she thought. Every day, all over the U.S., tens of thou- sands of motorists come upon stopped school buses and — whether due to impa- tience, distraction or disregard for the law — illegally drive by those school buses, en- dangering the lives of students who are loading or unloading (see News Alert on pg. 8). But that's not what happened in Rober- tino's case. As she waited there behind the bus, what she saw cut through her bad mood and left a lasting impression on her. Powerful impact In my editorial last month ("School bus drivers are in the public eye," September 2014 issue, pg. 6), I discussed how school bus drivers' actions can impact their stu- dents as well as the public in general. Robertino's experience, as you'll see, is a powerful example of that notion. She con- tacted SCHOOL BUS FLEET somewhat ac- cidentally — she was actually trying to get her message to the school bus driver's su- periors — but I found her story so compel- ling that I asked her if I could share it with our readers. Service with a smile As Robertino sat in her car behind the school bus on that June eve- ning, she didn't immediate- ly see anyone disembarking from the bus. Then the bus driver stepped out, walked to the rear of the bus and opened a door. At that point, Robertino re- alized what was happening. The driver was preparing to help a stu- dent off of the bus in a wheelchair lift. Then Robertino noticed that the child's father was waiting by the bus. Even at that level of detail, the scene could certainly have had a disarming ef- fect on Robertino. But what particularly struck her was how the bus driver car- ried out her duties. "I have to say, for this day and age I was so touched by the driver 's tender smile and caring touch for this child," Robertino recalled. But that wasn't the end of Robertino's uplifting encounters with this exemplary school bus driver. The next morning, as Robertino was on her way to work, she saw the driver again, at the wheel of her yellow bus with an infectious grin. This got Robertino's day off to a good start. "Here she is [the school bus driver] starting and ending the day with a smile on her face," Robertino said. "She made me feel good going to work." When I got in touch with Robertino to ask if I could share her story (and to suggest that she forward her note to the transportation department at the local school district, Pinellas County Schools), she gladly gave me her permission. "It might help others like me," Roberti- no replied, "to remember how important a smile can be." As she waited there behind the bus, what she saw cut through her bad mood and left a lasting impression on her. School bus driver's smile went a long way By Thomas McMahon, Executive Editor thomas.mcmahon@bobit.com editor's note SCHOOL BUS FLEET (ISSN 0036-6501) (USPS 483-800) is published monthly, except for May and November by Bobit Business Media, 3520 Challenger Street, Torrance, California 90503-1640. Periodicals postage paid at Torrance, California 90503-1640 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to School Bus Fleet, P.O. Box 1068 Skokie, IL 60076-8068. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for address changes to take effect. Subscription Prices - United States $25 per year; Canada $30 per year; Foreign $75 per year. Single copy price - $4; Fact Book - $25. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks to receive your first issue. Bobit Business Media reserves the right to refuse non-qualified subscriptions. Please address Editorial and Advertising correspondence to the Executive Offices at 3520 Challenger Street, Torrance, California 90503-1640. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of Bobit Business Media. All statements made, although based on information believed to be reliable and accurate, cannot be guaranteed and no fault or liability can be accepted for error or omission. For your Information: We sometimes make our subscriber information (i.e. fax, e-mail or mailing address) available to carefully screened organizations whose products and services may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to have your information made available, please write School Bus Fleet, P.O. Box 1068 Skokie, IL 60076-8068.

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