POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The first Monday in May is recognized in Ohio as Bus Driver Appreciation Day. It can be a thankless job, but one that’s so important.

Getting kids to and from school is no easy task and right now, there’s a bus driver shortage nationwide.

When Poland students step onto a school bus driven by John Gingery, they’re not just another passenger.

“Once they’re on the bus, you might as well say they’re our kids, too,” Gingery said.

They’re family – loved and protected. Gingery has been a bus driver at Poland Local Schools for the last 10 years. Safety is always his top priority because parents are counting on him to get their children to and from school every day.

“We take a lot of pride as bus drivers to do that job for our students and their parents,” he said.

Megan Roemer is the transportation director at Poland. She knows firsthand how hard the job can be.
Like so many districts, Poland also needs more people behind the wheel. Some of their drivers are pulling double-duty to keep up.

“On top of their regular route, they’re picking up the slack of other routes. It’s definitely been tough some days just trying to find coverage to get the kids to and from school,” Roemer said.

Roemer has even been hopping into a bus, driving routes to help out.

“Sometimes mornings, sometimes afternoons, sometimes both, which I am happy to help, but they really do go above and beyond us,” Roemer said.

Thank you may never be enough, but the drivers are appreciated for all that they do.

“They put in countless hours for school field trips, athletic events, you name it – day to day operations, and we really just want to take the time to say thank you,” Roemer said.

If you’re interested in becoming a bus driver, Poland is having a bus driver job fair later this month. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 from 10 a.m to noon and then from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Poland Local Schools Central Office on Dobbins Road, which is the former Dobbins Elementary school.

You don’t need to have your CDL for the job fair, it’s more of an informational job fair. It takes about 10 weeks to train a new driver, so they want to get the process started now before more drivers retire.