Her “bus children” keep veteran driver behind the wheel

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by Melissa Booraem

Anne Campbell, a school bus driver in Gwinnett for more than 20 years, can”t believe students she drove to school as kindergarteners are now in college. "It certainly doesn”t seem that long," she says.

Campbell became a bus driver to have the same schedule as her children, but her "bus children" have also found a special place in her heart. "Last year, I had a kindergartener tell me everyday that I was his hero," she says. It”s students like these that have made it hard for Campbell to retire.

Not that her family hasn”t asked when she”ll turn in her keys. Her children are now grown, and she has two granddaughters. "I keep telling them I”m not ready," she says happily. "Every year, I just keep coming back."

Safety… with a caring touch

Even though safety is Campbell”s top concern, she still wants to be remembered as a bus driver who made a difference to students. "When an elementary student has a birthday… we sing happy birthday," she says.

This year, she has a regular route in the Parkview cluster. She drives students from Arcado Elementary School and Trickum Middle School, daily, and is a breakdown driver for the high school.

Campbell says if she could tell parents one thing, it would be to make sure students listen to the bus driver and follow the rules. "As the driver, I”m better able to see traffic from my bus seat than the parents," she says.

"Our “bus children” are just that, our children. We protect them just as any parent would protect their own child. I want my students to understand that I want them to follow the rules because I truly care about them."

High tech tools now on board

Safety has always been a concern for Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). Campbell says one of the biggest changes over the past 20 years has been the new tracking systems now being gradually implmented.

The Parkview cluster has been a pilot for the new technology.

The system is designed to help keep track of routes, where buses are located in case of an emergency, the names of students at each stop and eventually, which students board the bus each day.