GRANITE CITY, Ill. — There is a national labor shortage and the St. Louis area is not immune to it. In the Metro East, there is a lack of bus drivers. The shortage made it really hard on Granite City CUSD #9.
“It was really awful. It was really desperate,” said school superintendent Stephanie M. Cann.
But some people in the Granite City community came to the rescue.
“I put my superhero cape on and just jumped into action,” laughed Heather Morris.
“Wow, did they step up,” added Cann.
Morris decided to stop being a stay-at-home mom and become a school bus driver.
“I just figured it would be my time to give back to my community,” she said.
She went through a six-week process to learn how to drive the bus and get her commercial driver’s license.
“It was very intimidating for me to figure it out,” she said. But she did, and she can even parallel park the bus. “I did it on my first try."
Morris described her new job as exciting, nerve-racking and thrilling. The job does involve more than just picking up and dropping off kids. There's also the responsibility of being a role model for the students.
“What they do is vital to the education of students," Cann said, talking about school bus drivers. "It’s the first person they see in the morning. The last person they see at night. They have such an impact."
“It brings so much joy to me knowing I get to see all these happy faces every single day,” said Morris.
She also has a newly found respect for her fellow bus drivers.
“Just want to give major props to all the people who have stuck it out,” she said.
“We couldn’t do it without them," Cann added.
Morris enjoys driving the kids so much that she doesn’t plan to leave.
“It's been pretty awesome. I just filled out a bid, so I can hopefully have a permanent route,” she said.
The school district is still short 22 drivers. They’re hiring and offering signing bonuses. If you would like to learn more check out the North America Central School Bus website and Granite City Community Unit School District #9 website.