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One of those life lessons happened recently. A young student in first grade approached Ms. Lazarus and asked if he could be considered as a reader. At first, she laments that she judged the young reader because of his age, but quickly realized that he had the skill level to contribute as a reader. She also recalled an instance where she encountered a former student postgraduation, who noted that upon recalling his time on her bus, he was impressed by her control and authority on the bus. The positive feedback is not limited to the young bus riders. Students’ parents have shown her the utmost support for not only the reading program, but also for Ms. Lazarus herself. She ensures that the lines of communication between herself and her students’ parents are open, making herself available via a mobile phone that she has accessible at all times. It’s important to her that she stays up-to-date on the needs of the students on her bus, no matter how specific or special. Even with the positivity and praise, it’s important to note that the schedule for a school bus driver can be an arduous one. On a typical day, Ms. Lazarus is up at 4:30am to provide herself a little me-time before her day begins at her bus at 6am. She has 3 bus routes: one with elementary school students (ranging from pre-K to 5th graders), one with middle school students, and one with high-school students, and each bus averaging 40-50 children at a time. Her morning route is typically done by 9am, and she waits a couple of hours before her next check-in time of 1:15pm. Her afternoon shift ends about 4:45pm each weekday, but can be extended if there is a day with flexible learning, or if she is driving the bus for an athletic trip. The athletic trips can provide an especially late clock-out time, sometimes as late as 10:30pm, with a 4:30am wake-up time still waiting for Ms. Lazarus the next day. According to Ms. Lazarus, she is simply making her contribution and notes the old saying, “it takes a village to raise the kids.” As she sees it, those working in education are all “interdependent,” and everyone works together to ensure that children are not only educated, but safe. Between teachers, administrators and ESPs (education support professionals, including bus drivers like Ms. Lazarus), “everyone plays their part for the kids.” 16 | KNOW • Volume 13 Issue 1 Outside of her daily responsibilities on the bus, Ms. Lazarus is exceptionally involved in her community in a variety of ways. She is passionate about suicide prevention among young people, and was instrumental in getting a grant approved to bring the suicide prevention program Sources of Strength to Clayton County. She started a support group in Clayton County for those affected by suicide, and is trained as a facilitator for the group and also home visits to the families who are affected. She is active within GAE, and works to ensure the voices of ESPs are heard. For 13 years, Ms. Lazarus has served her community as a bus driver for Clayton County, along with her active community involvement. She notes that she has incredible support from her family, including her spouse, children and grandchildren, and also her leaders at work. She notes particular support from the principal at River’s Edge Elementary School, Ms. Alisha Mohr. As for the support she receives from her “babies,” the parents, administration and her family, Ms. Lazarus says, “I am really blessed in this adventure.” *References: National Education Association - http://www.nea.org/grants/facts-about-childrens-literacy.html


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