The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher-Owner
Jackie Olson, was ready to move her new bus back to the parking lot after polishing up the floor with wax and giving it a thorough cleaning after its arrival earlier this month.
Having driven the longest of any bus driver at West Central High School, Jackie believes the changes in the newer bus are a significant improvement.
She, in a group of sixteen drivers and substitutes, spent a whole day of training given by Midwest Bus Company's instructor Mr. Steve Hamrick.
"There are a lot of differences," she said, "such as an automatic pre-trip system" which helps the drivers go through their 75 item check list before each trip.
Jackie said they each have to fill out a form which is turned into her huband, Rick Olson, who stores them as required in a locked box for a specific number of years as required by law.
"If we find something is wrong, we have to get it fixed, and if it takes a while, we must take a spare bus while ours is being fixed."
One safety features is a button at the back of the bus which has to be pushed before bus drivers can exit the bus.
"If we don't push it and try to get off," Jackie said, "an alarm goes off. It makes certain that bus drivers have walked the bus to check that everyone is off.
Jackie transports children from age 3 up to 12th grade in the Elementary and High School and shuttles some to Media.
She has driven a school bus for three other school districts, Yorkwood, Stronghurst, Union, and now West Central and has had 7 new buses over her 26 year span. The new "Thomas" bus was Jackie's first new one since 2002.
"I really enjoy driving, but if I had to start today, I might give it a second thought," she said explaining that discipline has become more of an issue today.
Jackie said students use to get in trouble at home if they acted up. Now parents are upset because you disciplined their child.
"If students and parents would read the rules and follow them and train their children, it would be less of a problem," she said.
"For instance, they can't stand at anytime when the bus is moving, they can't change seats, they can't eat or drink while I'm driving because they could choke, and I wouldn't know or be able to help."
"I treat everyone the same and then there are usually no problems."
"Only once, have I had to call the school and have someone pick up a problem child on my bus. It's very rare"
Jackie said that she has also had some very nice surprises when a student would bring her something special at Christmas or at the end of the year.
The majority of students is what keeps Jackie coming back as a bus driver.
She really enjoys driving a school bus and enjoys the enthusiasm that goes with it.