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Elementary school principal drives school bus in driver shortage


An Anderson County School District One principal has been working two separate jobs with pride since late December in order to assist the county in the midst of a statewide bus driver shortage. Wren Elementary School Principal Tommy Bolger says he was asked to drive a morning and afternoon school bus route to help get kids to and from school on time, to which he cheerfully obliged. For the last 6-8 weeks, Bolger has been waking up at 5 a.m to drive from his home in Clemson to the Anderson School District One Bus Depot, driving an hour-long route picking up 32 kids from their homes for Wren High School, Wren Middle School and Wren Elementary School, and then working a day shift as principal of Wren Elementary School; only to turn around at the end of the day and drop off all the same students from his morning route back at home. “All our educators all over the country, we’re just doing stuff we have to, that we’ve normally never done,” Bolger said. “Our kids get to school early, they get home early, whereas before when they had to double up, they would be an hour late. Middle and high schoolers were missing instruction and it would be an hour before they went home.”Seeming to know every one of his students by name, even recognizing them through their face masks, Bolger has been described as an animated and impactful educator who truly has a passion for teaching. WYFF News 4 shadowed Bolger Friday morning and listened to raving reviews about Bolger from parents dropping children off in the carpool line as well as each of the many students he provided with a COVID-19 friendly fist bump. “I know most of them, they’ve either gone through Wren Elementary and Wren Middle and high and I just know them,” Bolger said. “I actually studied the yearbook just to make sure as well. The hardest ones are kindergartners because it’s their first year, but you gotta make sure you do cause it’s important for our kids to know who I am.”Bolger says his time as a bus driver is coming to a close soon, with new trainees taking the wheel in ASD1 next week. Bolger says while he will miss the time he got to spend getting to know his students from a different perspective, he is glad to be able to realign his efforts to be present in the early morning carpool lane and afternoon dismissal. Bolger adds that his stint as a bus driver has given him an even higher appreciation for the work that everyday bus drivers do, adding that the job of getting kids to and from kids safely and on time is challenging.

An Anderson County School District One principal has been working two separate jobs with pride since late December in order to assist the county in the midst of a statewide bus driver shortage.

Wren Elementary School Principal Tommy Bolger says he was asked to drive a morning and afternoon school bus route to help get kids to and from school on time, to which he cheerfully obliged. For the last 6-8 weeks, Bolger has been waking up at 5 a.m to drive from his home in Clemson to the Anderson School District One Bus Depot, driving an hour-long route picking up 32 kids from their homes for Wren High School, Wren Middle School and Wren Elementary School, and then working a day shift as principal of Wren Elementary School; only to turn around at the end of the day and drop off all the same students from his morning route back at home.

“All our educators all over the country, we’re just doing stuff we have to, that we’ve normally never done,” Bolger said. “Our kids get to school early, they get home early, whereas before when they had to double up, they would be an hour late. Middle and high schoolers were missing instruction and it would be an hour before they went home.”

Seeming to know every one of his students by name, even recognizing them through their face masks, Bolger has been described as an animated and impactful educator who truly has a passion for teaching. WYFF News 4 shadowed Bolger Friday morning and listened to raving reviews about Bolger from parents dropping children off in the carpool line as well as each of the many students he provided with a COVID-19 friendly fist bump.

“I know most of them, they’ve either gone through Wren Elementary and Wren Middle and high and I just know them,” Bolger said. “I actually studied the yearbook just to make sure as well. The hardest ones are kindergartners because it’s their first year, but you gotta make sure you do cause it’s important for our kids to know who I am.”

Bolger says his time as a bus driver is coming to a close soon, with new trainees taking the wheel in ASD1 next week. Bolger says while he will miss the time he got to spend getting to know his students from a different perspective, he is glad to be able to realign his efforts to be present in the early morning carpool lane and afternoon dismissal.

Bolger adds that his stint as a bus driver has given him an even higher appreciation for the work that everyday bus drivers do, adding that the job of getting kids to and from kids safely and on time is challenging.

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