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Climb Aboard As A School Bus Driver Preps For The First Day Of Classes


Bus drivers are also preparing for a new school year. They're testing bus routes, and Rachel Morello, of member station WFIU, rode shotgun with a Bloomington, Ind., bus driver.

PATTI NEWELL: You're the first school-oriented person that they're going to see the - every day, no matter what.

Good morning. My name is Patti Newell, and I drive bus 107 for Monroe County Community School Corporation. You want to make sure that you start their day off good. You want to say good morning. Even if they don't say good morning back, you still say, good morning. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Four hundred twelve to 500 for radio check.

NEWELL: I've been driving for around 19 years, I think, yeah. This route, this is going on my second year now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Thirty-seven to 412, I heard you loud and clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ten-four...

NEWELL: But now if it was a completely new route to me and I wasn't familiar with it at all, before I got in my bus, I would run it in my car because it's a whole lot easier to back up and find a different road in my little car than it is in this bus.

My favorite part is getting to welcome the kids on the bus, especially the elementary kids. I like to make them feel welcome. I want them to know that they can trust me.

Well, the high school girls, they're all quite interesting (laughter). Each one has their own unique personality, and I enjoy it when they get on the bus and they'll say, oh, Patti, you'll never guess. You know, this and that happened, and, you know, this is what we had for lunch today. And it's just nice 'cause it kind of makes you feel like you're important to them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel joined WUWM January 2016 as the station's first education reporter.
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