Granite District bus drivers recognized for School Bus Driver Appreciation DayMar 31, 2023 12:58PM ● By Peri Kinder
Granite District School Board President Nicole McDermott (left) and Granite school bus driver Colleen Spratt attend an open house celebrating School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. (Photo courtesy of Granite School District)
Lorelei White’s day starts at 4 a.m. and by 5:50 she’s on her way to pick up the first students on her school bus route. She loves every minute of it.
It takes a special temperament to be a school bus driver. Dealing with a bus full of kids, plus Utah weather, road construction and other drivers requires a thick skin, resilience and courage. That’s why Granite School District wants to ensure its bus drivers feel appreciated.
White started driving for Granite in August 2020 after training during the summer to receive her Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Since then, she’s developed a true love for her job. She decorates her bus for the seasons and holidays and gets to know the students she transports every day.
“The kids are the best part,” she said. “I just love working with different schools and having different students. It’s a split shift, so I can do stuff in the middle of the day. I have days off and if I choose I can take the summer off. It fits with my schedule.”
On School Bus Driver Appreciation Day (Feb. 22) , a huge snowstorm hit the Wasatch Front, canceling classes across Salt Lake County and postponing the drivers’ open house. But Dr. David Gatti, Granite School District director of transportation, wanted to make sure his drivers still had a day of recognition and gratitude for their hard work.
“We love our drivers,” Gatti said. “They’re great human beings who come in and work hard for us all the time. Even when the rest of the world sometimes gets the day off, a lot of times they have to be in. Even if it’s a snow day.”
District officials held an appreciation reception for school bus drivers one morning before driving their routes. With 180 drivers, 142 daily routes (plus extra events like games and field trips), Gatti said the district takes care of its people but is always looking for new drivers.
There are several open spots for school bus drivers and the district offers free training, plus pays them to train for their CDL. Anyone interested can call Gatti at 801-879-1255 for more information.
“You need to like kids and the rest we can help you with. As long as you like kids, we can teach you all the different parts of driving a school bus,” he said. “The school bus driver shortage is one of the biggest shortages related to education. For us, getting them in is important but keeping them in is more important. It’s an interestingly stressful job.”
White said her biggest challenge is finding a place for a bathroom break, especially during field trips, but it always works out. Road construction can also be an issue with having to find a detour on the fly.
Even Gatti gets behind the wheel when needed. He’s driven 150 times during the last two years to make up for being short-staffed. But people are starting to apply again. White heartily encourages people to look into school bus driving as a career.
“The office staff is great,” she said. “I’ve always felt supported. When I have questions I can go in and ask. The schools are great to work with. Most of the administration and teachers I’ve worked with have been really good and helpful.”