Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has officially declared Feb. 22 as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day throughout the state to honor drivers for their tireless dedication to safely transporting students.
Carrying the state seal and the governor’s signature, the proclamation stated that bus drivers are important figures in children’s lives, committed to the hard work of being positive influences while protecting students on the road to and from school.
The brainchild of the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association and the Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation, the day was created to encourage school leaders, parents and students to give “these quiet heroes the recognition they deserve,” said MSBOA President Josh Schiffler.
MSBOA represents the state’s privately owned school bus contractors, providing more than 60 percent of the buses used to transport Minnesota children.
“School bus drivers transport parents’ most precious cargo—their children—day in and day out, and they do this job humbly and with great pride,” Schiffler added.
Throughout the state, students can honor their drivers with appreciation cards. Also on the docket will be a press conference in St. Louis Park, a city near Minneapolis.
“Our school bus drivers take their jobs seriously and are committed to getting kids to and from school safely,” said Derrick Agate Sr., president of MAPT, a nonprofit that promotes safe and efficient student transportation in the state.
Due to the diligence of drivers, along with the rigorous safety standards and training efforts, students are nearly eight times safer riding to and from school in a school bus than in cars.
The industry is also the largest form of mass transit in Minnesota and helps save 2.3 billion gallons of fuel per year.
“School bus drivers are often the first person a student interacts with every morning, and the last person they see from school in the afternoon,” said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, who will attend the event at St. Louis Park and extend her gratitude.
Several bus drivers will be on hand to receive acknowledgement, including Angela Pias-Petersen, is a Shakopee-based driver who calmly collected her students and kept them safe after an impaired driver crashed into her bus less than two months into the job.
According to MSBOA representative Shelly Jonas, the association fashioned the day’s events in order to “flip the script” on how people view drivers, hoping the public will “recognize themselves in our sample and see school bus driving as a respected career choice and perhaps something that they could do.”