‘Angel’ masquerades as bus driver at McPolin
The holidays are a good time to be charitable, but some people like to give year round.
Alan Lewis drives the bus for children with special needs at McPolin Elementary. "He’s like an angel," parent Kathy Herzog said.
Lewis has driven the special needs bus for McPolin over the last three years. During that time teachers say he has consistently gone the extra mile. "The kids are fun, I like to be here," Lewis said.
When school was dismissed for the holiday break last week he gave Christmas gifts to all of the students on his bus.
He does other thoughtful things for the children throughout the year. Lewis decorates the bus windows with cheerful decals and buys children’s music for his riders to listen to. Sometimes he sings to them. Lewis also made ID tags for all of the children to attach to their backpacks.
"He makes it the most important job in the world," special needs teacher Shelly Pierce said.
Lewis is very attentive to the needs of his passengers. He will get out of the driver’s seat and help load the children onto the bus. Some of the students he works with are prone to seizures and he knows how to recognize if they’re having one and how to handle it. He soothes the children out of tantrums and also cleans up after them.
"You never worry about the kids being unattended," Herzog said. She also notes that he always maintains a positive attitude, "If he was ever having a bad day you’d never know it," Kathy Herzog said.
The children have goals that Lewis helps them work toward. Students on his bus each have an Individual Education Plan, and part of that includes objectives such as improving their greetings. "He is the only outside service provider that works on their goals with them," Pierce said.
The teachers are very appreciative for the work he does and say his commitment to the children is unprecedented in a bus driver. "I don’t know how many times you’re allowed to put the word angel in an article. We love him," said special needs teacher Courtney Chambers.
Many of the teachers worry they might loose him. Every year bus drivers bid on the position they want, and those with seniority get to bid first. There is a possibility he will be out bid for the position. "It could happen. There are other good people, tell them not to worry," Lewis said.
In the meantime, he continues to serve the special needs children on his bus with a desire to help them. "He’s very, very kind and extremely patient. I’ve never seen anyone care so much about the well being of our kids," Pierce said.
Lewis almost makes the job sound easy. "You just have to be happy with them. They’re very receptive to friendly people," he said.
He’s receptive to them as well. "His face lights up when he sees the kids," Chambers said.
Herzog adds there is nothing artificial about Lewis, "He’s totally genuine, there’s no motive behind it." She adds that she’s very grateful "to not have to worry about the bus, with a special needs kid."
Lewis’s main concern is the well being of the children on his bus. "They’ve got some pretty important people here. I’m just making sure they’re taken care of," he said.
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