PEORIA - The new school year means many parents are putting their children on th4e bus for the first time. Parents and the School District want their students to be safe, but so do the bus drivers. That rings especially true, because just three months ago a District 150 bus crashed and eight students were sent to the hospital.
Willie Parker has been escorting young learners to District 150 schools for five years.
He says he doesn’t mind the drive, but there are some added challenges to driving a 14-ton vehicle compared to his car.
“When you make a right turn you have to watch your back wheel back there so you don't hit the curb on the bus and rock the bus over,” says Parker
So he’s thankful for the chance to spend about 12 hours getting reacquainted with his bus and learning his new route.
"It lets them know what new laws, what, how they're going on. We let them know what new lane closures we're not gonna use anymore,” says Michael Worly his Supervisor.
It’s the process of making sure your kids are safe, whether the route takes them through busy streets or crowded neighborhoods.
This year Willie Parker is bringing back his partner in safety, Joyce, who monitors the kids and helps them on the bus.
"One of my students comes out so I walk across the street to get him. So I can bring him across the street safe from the cars,“ she says.
You could say the two have known each other for a long time. They’ve been married for forty-four years.
Giving Joyce plenty of time to judge her husband’s driving.
"He's a good driver. He takes instructions pretty well. If I say the kid is on the side of you, he says I see it, Joyce, I see it."
And that’s the kind of chemistry they need to get their students safely to and from school.
Willie Parker and other drivers are also trained in the case of medical emergencies.
Their supervisor says District 150 wants to use last spring’s accident as a learning tool so it doesn’t happen again.