Who is that person behind the wheel of that big yellow bus?
As Yalonda Angula says, it’s the first person and last person a student sees every day they go to school.
Angula, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, loves her job as a bus driver and has been doing it for more than 10 years.
An accountant earlier in her career, Angula said she took time off from there when her daughter was born. She wanted to do something part time and applied to be a bus driver. From there the rest, as they say, is history.
“Now I will never go back to my office job,” Angula said. “I will finish up my working career here.”
You would think that being around kids all day, you might think there would be times that are hard to handle, especially for the bus driver. But for Angula, she sees each day as something new, and as such she can learn something new from the kids she drives.
“The kids make me young,” she said. “They make you appreciate life. And I feel like some of the kids need me or just need a nice word said to them. It’s a very rewarding job.”
The state of Arizona requires that bus drivers go through a six-hour training every two years. Kyrene bus drivers are required to do it every year before school starts. They have in place a system called PBIS, or positive behavior intervention system. The goal behind that is to teach the drivers how to be sympathetic to the students.
“We want the drivers to have a positive influence on the kids,” said supervisor Rusty Bingham. “When the students get on the bus, we want them to be sensitive to the student’s needs.”
It is easy enough for drivers like Angula, who drives the same bus and picks up the same group of kids every day.
“I want this to be a safe place for the kids, a place where they feel happy and comfortable,” she said.
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