Brooks loves his bus
Donald Brooks has been a bus driver with Rutherford County Schools for over 23 years. He is one of many drivers that should be given the recognition they deserve during Love the Bus Week.
"I was a custodian, then I got my bus license and started driving a bus," Brooks said. "I enjoy it. I like being there with the kids."
Today he drives bus No. 49, the exceptional children's bus for Chase Middle, Chase High, Ellenboro Elementary, Cliffside Elementary and the Rutherford Opportunity Center.
"I get up at 4:30 a.m. and I generally leave home at about 5:30 a.m. and sometimes 6 a.m. depending on what the kids are doing. Some mornings, not all the kids ride the bus and you get done a little earlier," Brooks said. "I leave back out at 11:30 a.m., pick up some and take them home. Then I go back and pick up some more. They get out at different times."
Brooks has 20 students that ride his bus. Since it is an EC bus, he has a monitor that helps him watch the students while he's driving.
"Before when I was driving down at Forrest Hunt Elementary, I didn't have a monitor and it was just me by myself. You have a responsibility out there driving a bus. You have to be safe with the kids," Brooks said. "You got to watch the kids and watch for traffic at the same time. Now my monitor takes care of the kids while I drive."
He says that one of the most important parts of being a driver is making sure the kids are safe.
"You have to really concentrate, people will run the stop sign. A lot of people see the bus coming, and if they see those yellow caution lights, they start speeding up and don't stop. They think you will hold them up," Brooks said. "A lot of them will pull right out in front of you too because they want to try to get in front because they think you are going to be stopping. You have to really stay alert ."
According to Brooks, what makes driving a bus the most enjoyable is having good bus riders.
"The kids really don't give me a problem. I have always had good kids on my bus routes. I have had some I had to suspend off the bus, but overall they are good," Brooks said. "The parents are pretty good. They cooperate with you. If you tell them how their kid is acting on the bus, most of the time they straighten them out."
However, he is considering retiring at the end of this school year.
"I haven't decided, but I would be doing it in June. I just haven't made up my mind," Brooks said. "When I do retire, I am going to miss the kids but I will be able to relax."
Although retirement is in his future, Brooks says he has enjoyed his time as a bus driver.
"You meet a lot of different kids, every kid is not the same," Brooks said. "All the years I have been driving, I have had some good kids and made friends with a lot of kids. A lot of them are grown and I will see them and they will say, 'You were the best bus driver we ever had.'"