Russ Wood retired after driving a school bus in Teton County for “well over 20 years,” but he’s still transporting children to their classes.
Today, Wood finds himself not behind the wheel, but behind a pair of fluorescent orange flags as he escorts students who walk to and from Jackson Elementary School. Wyoming Department of Education administrative rules set a 1 mile radius from an elementary school as the walking distance. “No transportation shall be provided to children within the walking distance,” with certain exceptions, the rule states.
The district hires Wood for four hours a day to walk a route from East Jackson to the school, and back home in the afternoon. He entrains anywhere from 10 to 18 students most mornings, fewer than that going home, he said.
“This is fun and the kids enjoy it,” he said Thursday. There’s more of an opportunity to interact with the children than when he was driving a bus, he said.
As a driver, for example, the only option he had to deal with an unruly student was to ask him or her to sit up front next to him. On the Walking School Bus, he can interact.
“I kind of like that part a lot,” Wood said. “Instead of punishing a kid, you can talk to him.”