Bus Huddles: A new initiative propelling safety on QMS buses

As gray skies cleared to reveal the sun for the first time after a few days of concurrent rain, a sunny disposition was found among the Queensbury Middle School students, staff, and bus drivers as the first session of a new bi-annual initiative, “Bus Huddles”, kicked off during lunch on Wednesday. 

Middle school student reaches for a cupcake that is sitting on a table in front of her bus driver
6th grade student reaches for a cupcake from her bus driver during the Bus Driver Lunch Huddle
A group of 6th graders sit and eat lunch with their bus driver

“Everything in the middle school ultimately is about building relationships,” said Sarah Tarantino, assistant principal of the middle school, “We wanted to start this initiative in order to build positive relationships between students and their bus drivers–so the students get to know them, and vice versa.”

Director of Transportation Cheri Martindale had similar sentiments, saying, “A get-together like this helps students to see the drivers in a different light. This is giving students an opportunity for a more in-depth conversation with their drivers that they otherwise would likely not be able to have. It is a time for the riders to share their positive/negative feelings about riding the bus, and for them to have some freedom of movement and freedom of conversation, all over a tasty meal!”

Along the grassy curbside, seated in front of the buses they typically ride home, students were joining in laughter as the drivers asked various open-ended questions such as, “If you drove a bus, what rules would you make?”, or “Do you have any pets?”, or “Do you play an instrument?”

“If I were a bus driver, I would make a rule of no yelling on the bus,” said one 7th grader, confidently, “When all the kids are yelling it hurts my ears.”

“They should make more buses, so everyone can have their own whole bus to themselves,” chimed in a 6th grader. “No, I like riding with my friends,” retorted another 6th grader sitting nearby. 

Two girls walk alongside each other in front of several school buses.
8th graders walk by the bus line to join their friends in the Bus Huddle
A bus driver takes time to chat with one of his bus riders
One of the bus drivers takes time to chat with a 6th grade student
Smiles abound during the opportunity for bus riders to eat together

“We want the buses to be as safe as possible, and one of the ways to do this is to sit down and help explain the reason why we have such rules in place,” said one of the bus drivers, “I noticed that throughout the lunch, kids became more understanding as they were able to ask questions and felt more comfortable with us.”