Growing up in the most rural section of Rhode Island during the 1960’s provided learning experiences that were powerful in ways that are still being revealed to me today. Our town, in those days, did not have a high school, so students were transported to neighboring towns on a tuition basis. For my brother and me, that meant an hour bus ride at each end of the day, and the the high school moniker of “hick”, used playfully or painfully, as any given situation warranted.

As I reflect on it now, we were a mobile learning community without even knowing it. We learned to care for one another; no one talked about being compassionate, but older students looked out for the younger riders, and family norms revealed themselves over time. We learned patience, tolerance, and just how much revelry our driver would tolerate. Studious riders used the time to complete homework; others made it a social event every day. For me, personal traits of leadership, teaching, and nurturing were developed and primed over the many years of those bus rides. I learned who I was, and more importantly, who I might become, during those formative years.

Bus drivers may be the unsung heroes of our educational system. Each student, especially in a rural system, starts and ends their school day with that driver. Should we invest more “learning time” with those important individuals? Something to consider…

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