CLEARFIELD, Utah — The Davis School District recognized national bus driver and assistant appreciation day by providing breakfast to the women and men who safely transport children to school.
The district employs roughly 300 drivers and assistants. They transport more than 21,000 students which represents 29% of the students in the Davis School District.
“It has been hard. It’s been very, very hard for us, but they have stepped up,” said Shawna Cragun, the transportation director for the district. “The last two years have been very brutal.”
Despite staff shortages, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other challenges like snow and ice, drivers recognize how critical and essential their work is to keep the district running.
“I don’t do it for the money,” said Larry Peck, who has worked at the district for decades. “I really enjoy the kids.”
Others who attended the breakfast echoed that sentiment.
“We are transporting the most precious cargo, so to know that it is appreciated, that makes a difference,” said bus driver Katie Wendel. “I want to be the kind of bus driver I wish I would have had, or I would hope my kids would have.”
“I don’t have grandkids myself, but they are like my grandkids,” added bus driver Sylvia Padilla.
As life returns to a sense of normalcy with the pandemic nearing a close, these drivers say they will continue their work.
The reward of being able to provide a valuable service to children is worth overcoming all the struggles.
“For me it doesn't matter if it's a challenge, you greet them with, ‘good morning,’ you send them home with, ‘have a good day,’” Wendel said. “You don't know what they are going home to, you don’t know what kind of day they had at school. I might be the only ray of sunshine they have.”