For the Fall 2022 edition of the Advocate, we interviewed JoAn Ames, education support professional in LaPorte, Ind.
Q. How long have you been a bus driver?
A. I’ve been driving a bus since 2012, which now makes 10 years.
Q. What made you want to become a bus driver?
A. At the time, it fit within our schedule. My son was in high school, and I was a stay-at-home mom working my business. I custom design show clothes for people who show horses. I wanted a part-time job that was flexible, and I knew the director at the time. So, I decided to give it a try.
Q. What’s your favorite memory as a bus driver?
A. My first bus route really showed me how tough some of these kids have it, but they were still great kids. I had a family that didn’t have anything. The little boy could be a handful and the oldest sister would get in trouble at times. I would always make sure that the kids got on the bus safely. At the end of the school year, their dad gave me a $15 Wendy’s gift card and said, “you kept my kids safe”. That’s a touching memory for me because I was simply doing my job.
Q. What motivates you to keep going and stay positive despite the various issues in the education system (school shootings, legislation and policy changes, etc.)?
A. There are lots of great kids. I have driven for the haves and the have nots and I’ve never had a problem out of any of the kids. I also stand behind the teachers. Tying the hands of educators doesn’t teach the kids anything. When we take the diversity out of the education system, you take the growth out of education. It helps them learn. The teachers are in a tough spot and they are not rewarded for what they do. In addition, I use a lot of humor day-to-day.
Q. What advice would you give to a new bus driver?
A. It’s a great job with lots of perks. You’ll find that you will enjoy seeing the children. I’d also tell them that how you run the bus is how you will be treated. You treat the kids with respect and hopefully you get that back.
Q. When you’re not driving a bus, what are some things that you enjoy to do?
A. My husband and I have a small farm with some cattle. I’m also currently campaigning for number 1 amateur for the paint and pinto association. The horses are my passion. The paint and pinto are my breed of choice. I’ve been training horses for 46 years. I’m a cowgirl and I have been my entire life.
Q. What motto do you live by?
A. It’s only a problem if I can’t fix it!