A busload of knowledge
Charlotte Ann Miller loves her kids—all 60-something of them. She’s been driving a K-12 school bus for nearly 30 years now, and, with a huge smile on her face, Miller said she believes transporting students to and from school during the academic year keeps her young. Initially coming to Chico from Escondido 37 years ago, Miller began training to become a bus driver while working two other jobs and raising two kids simultaneously. She started out as a part-time substitute driver, eventually getting hired permanently by Chico Unified School District in 1988. Today, Miller primarily drives the Route 8 bus, transporting her Chico and Pleasant Valley High School and Bidwell Junior High students to and from school.
What is unique about this job?
I’ve found that you acquire this love for the kids. Regardless if they’re the trouble-maker types or the quiet ones or the rambunctious ones, you end up looking forward to seeing them each day. You don’t get that special bond from other jobs. I have a lot of people ask me, you know, “How do you deal with those screaming kids?” But I look forward to it … I love my kids. They keep me young. Most people can’t believe I’m 60!
Have there been any instances that made you realize how special this job was?
Oh yeah. I’ve run into plenty of my kids over the years who are grown up now, but still remember, “Oh hey, you were my bus driver!” I remember one time one of my rambunctious kids on the bus, he graduated and moved on, but I saw him working at the store. I told him I was his bus driver from grade school. His eyes lit up—he remembered who I was, and it was really good to see him and see that he turned out OK after all. Also, I always say “hello” and “goodbye” to the kids. One brother and sister used to never say “hi” to me, they were just very quiet and reserved, but I continued greeting them. Well now, with the sister already graduating, they hug me and everything. Their personality has changed, and I like to think I helped them.
What are you looking forward to in the next couple months?
I’m looking forward to next Wednesday when school starts. I think bus drivers are a dying profession because it’s not mandatory anymore. It’s really a privilege for us to drive them to school. In this economy, with fuel prices as high as they are, it’s crazy how few buses are driving around. Have you seen in front of PV in the mornings? It’s like a zoo, with accidents waiting to happen. I’m looking forward to keeping this whole bus thing going!