Tony St. John exudes kindness on the Moffat County school bus
School district seeks more school bus drivers before fall classes begin
Tony St. John likes to acknowledge each child who gets on his school bus with a quick fist-bump and a greeting.
“It’s just a little fist-bump as they’re getting on the bus,” he said. “I’ll say good morning to them and ask them how they’re doing.”
St. John has driven a bus for the Moffat County School DistrictMoffat County School District for three years, beginning in 2013. It’s work that he took on in retirement while he was a member of the board of Education — where he served two terms. for three years, beginning in 2013. It’s work that he took on in retirement while he was a member of the board of Education — where he served two terms.
Moffat County School District for three years, beginning in 2013. It’s work that he took on in retirement while he was a member of the board of Education — where he served two terms.
And in 2016, St. John was named Best School Bus Driver in Moffat County.
“When you first become a bus driver, in my opinion, the kids will test you,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s a testing period, and you just have to work it out. Today, my kids are great. I love my kids. You still have your ups and downs, but I have far more ups than I do downs.”
St. John’s passengers run the gamut of elementary, middle and high school students.
“My high-schoolers sit in the back,” he said, adding that it’s by choice. Sometimes, he said, students from different grades sit together — an arrangement that works out just fine.
St. John said students strike up lots of conversations with him, often recounting things that have happened during the day.
“They’ll just talk to me,” he said. “Especially if they’re sitting behind me, they’ll ask me how my day has gone. They’re nice kids. They’re good kids.”
St. John speaks Spanish, something that helps him connect with many families on his route.
“I have a lot of Spanish-speaking kids on the bus,” he said. “I’m bilingual — I speak Spanish — and that’s been a good asset for me with the parents when I pick up the kids. They know that I can speak Spanish, and sometimes they’ll come to me and say something about their child.”
St. John said he’s received notes and candy from children thanking him for his work. He also said that he heard from a parent, at the end of the school year, that two of her children were crying after they’d gotten off the bus.
“It scared me, because I thought I did something wrong,” St. John said. But the reason they were crying, the parent explained, was that, “We’re not going to see Tony anymore.”
Until next year, that is.
As St. John was recalling his experiences driving the bus, he mentioned that he and his wife were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary — and that they were receiving appreciative notes from their own children.
“You don’t know the effect that you have, whether it’s your children or children on a bus,” he said. “You don’t know the effect until something happens — like it’s the last day of school and they’re going to miss you. And I’m going to miss them.”
Lonnie Douglass, director of transportation for the Moffat County School District, noted St. John’s warm manner with other people.
“Tony’s just good with people,” said Douglass. “He just really is a good guy, and he’s definitely been good for this company.”
Douglass extended those thoughts to the rest of the bus-driving squad.
“We have an amazingly good crew here,” he said. “Everybody really came together (this past year) and made things work.”
But Douglass said the district needs more school bus drivers: he’s looking for six of them before school starts. He said the process of training for the Class B CDL license, as well as learning the route, takes about three to five weeks, and he offers training for the license at no charge.
Douglass is looking for safe drivers as well as people who are good with children.
“It’s actually the greatest part-time job in the world,” he said, and then added: “for the right person.”
Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.
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