Making the wheels of a child’s life turn: The Person Behind the Wheel

Bus Driver Article By: Catelynn Tanksley

Being a bus driver and working with elementary, middle and high school students requires a lot of both compassion and patience. Mrs. Cassie Gill and Mrs. Bobbie Dye gave some insight into the life of the person behind the wheel.

Mrs. Gill has driven more than thirty routes all in Coweta County for a total of 7 years, and Mrs. Dye has driven off-and-on for about thirty years in three different counties: Fayette, Fulton and currently drives an Odyssey Charter School route for Coweta County.

Both, despite their years of experience, come back each year to their routes with enthusiasm and a guiding sense of purpose. Their motivation, largely, comes directly from the students they drive.

“My daily motivation would probably be when the kids come up and tell me they miss me if I’m out, that they love me, and that they sure are glad that I’m their bus driver,” Mrs. Gill said.

Mrs. Dye explained a similar feeling, “The motivation to come back would be that I get the opportunity to make a difference in at least one, if not more, children’s life.”

As much as Mrs. Dye and Mrs. Gill both love their jobs and students, they explained the major differences between driving a bus and driving their personal vehicles.

The difference is as technical as it is emotional, in many ways. Both must balance driving their family as well as driving a different kind of family.

“The only two main differences between driving my personal vehicle and a bus are that the only lives in my vehicle are mine and my family’s,” commented Mrs. Gill. “On a bus, I’m responsible for twenty to sixty lives in a day. A bus also handles different. The speeds are very different.”

Through many years of driving, Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Dye have accumulated many memorable moments but a few stand out as being the most memorable.

Mrs. Dye’s favorite memory comes from the special moments she has shared with students both on and off the bus, helping them in great times of need.

“My favorite memory as a bus driver is my special needs kids. I absolutely loved the kids and the parents. I would go to the hospital when they had surgeries and sit with their parents,” Mrs. Dye reflected. “The saddest part is, I’ve lost a couple of kids. Two students come to mind. Chris, who liked to dance in his wheelchair to whatever song was on the radio, and Tamara, who could sing. Man, could she sing.”

Some memories, however, bring out the humorous and spontaneous side of the job. Mrs. Gill remembered a time when a student missed the bus but did not let his ride to school get away.

“My favorite memory? Has to be the day I was having a rough start one morning. One of my high school boys missed the bus. I went to close the door and he came running up. When I looked up all I saw was a grin and his head between the door, and he was yelling ‘Mrs. Cassie! Mrs. Cassie, open the door, open the door!’” Mrs. Gill stated.

Despite some wonderful memories, both Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Dye agree that there are things about a driver’s life that tend to go unnoticed.

“One of the most under-appreciated things that both students and adults tend to overlook is how long it takes to get the bus ready to get in,” Mrs. Dye commented. “I get there probably an hour early just to heat up the bus and then freeze to the first stop. They just don’t understand.”

Despite the effort and sacrifice for the students, Mrs. Dye explained how bus drivers do not always receive respect in return and have challenging moments.

“When a student or adult is disrespectful or takes advantage of me, I guess it hurts my feelings. I definitely feel under-appreciated.” Mrs. Dye stated.

When not driving or getting a bus ready, Mrs. Gill explained that she enjoys doing a variety of things when she is not behind the wheel.

“In my free time, I like to hunt, fish, ride four-wheelers, attend church activities and spend time with my family,” Mrs. Gill said.

Students aren’t the only ones counting down the days to summer, and while these drivers will make the most of their break, they will be awaiting the next generation of riders to show up in August to take their seats on the bus.