One of our school bus drivers, Mark, is celebrating receiving his master's degree after 14 years of college. Aside from marveling at his "stick-to-it"-ness, I was particularly struck by what he wrote in his graduation ceremony invitation. "Fourteen years ago I decided to go back to school and — only as an afterthought then — to get a part-time job driving a school bus. Little did I know that becoming a school bus driver would be a bedrock of success for me!"
Mark's story is by no means unique. No doubt, he chose school bus driving because the work schedule would accommodate his school schedule. But there had to be other factors that led Mark into this job as well. He probably had heard from friends and relatives that the job pays pretty well for a part-time position. He would also receive free training. If he made it to a permanent position, he'd get medical and retirement benefits as well. He'd get to drive a big vehicle and he wouldn't have to work in a cubicle or other constraining workplace. That's what ultimately drew Mark and tens of thousands of others like him into the profession.
Aristotle said, "You are what you do repeatedly." For the thousands of drivers who wake before sunrise to be ready for their morning routes and head home in the late afternoon, this routine, although not ideal, is an essential component of their lives. They show up for their students day in and day out. They perform their safety pre-trips as the sun is rising and, during some times of the year, they perform their post-trip / child-check with a flashlight in the dark.
Between those hours, though, comes the part of the job that captures most drivers. They get to support students in the critically important job of learning. In addition to ensuring their safe transport, bus drivers get to help build and mold their lives. They do this persistently and they feel the reward of getting to make a difference. Along the way they develop leadership skills and maturity. And as Aristotle's saying concludes: "Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
It was not really a surprise when Mark notified me that his plans are to continue growing professionally as both a school bus driver and as a marriage and family therapist. He's already got a primary profession where he has acquired several skills that he can now apply in his new secondary job.