NEWPORT CORNER, N.S. — Wendell Carroll has been serving Hants County students as a bus driver for the past 10 years, following a career in finance and business ownership.
Carroll says he enjoys what he does, getting to know the students, which range in age from four to 18-years-old, and making sure everyone gets to their destination safely.
“We have lived in Newport Corner for 30 years, this house for 30 years, but my wife actually grew up in this house. She moved away to go to university in Halifax after high school and had an unfortunate encounter with me and long story short we got married, went off and saw some unglamorous parts of the Atlantic provinces over the next seven years. I was in the banking business in Newfoundland, PEI, and New Brunswick. With a new baby, we said enough of this. My wife’s dad had passed away, parents were getting older, so we wanted to be closer to home and moved back here. My life is unspectacular. I’ve had some great moments in my life, it’s been rounded in terms of my past career and what I do now, which I really enjoy.”
“I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore in a little community called Sheet Harbour. Spent the first 18 years of my life there. That was neat, a very rural community, even more than this, farther away from the big city. It was a different time; life was a little simpler. No internet, but we had televisions and telephones. I was the youngest of four kids and ended up spending the last few years basically as an only child. It was a good up-bringing, had loving parents, and went off to university after high school and never looked back.”
“I retired from a business career 10 years ago, which spanned 28 years; (it) involved banking for the most part and also business ownership. My wife and I owned and operated the Sears dealership in Windsor for just about seven years — we were the second owners. After seven years, our kids were grown up, living on their own, and we were working way harden than we wanted to so it was time to start another chapter in my life. The kids were home, we were all sitting around and my daughter was looking at a newspaper, and she said ‘here Dad.’ She saw an advertisement for school bus drivers. And ironically, my dad had driven a school bus. I thought, ‘why not?’”
“I like being around people, I like kids. Up to that point I had done a fair amount of coaching in ball and raised my own two kids. I had liked to drive, although I had never driven anything that big other than a fire truck when I was growing up, but I knew it wasn’t rocket science. Time-wise, it also fed into the things I like to do outside of work. I wasn’t in a position that at 52 I could just give up work and retire, mentally and financially quite frankly, but there’s time between jobs in the day to do some things around the house. The big thing for me though was having the summers off and fastball and softball has been a passion of mine for my entire life in various capacities. For the past 18 years that has turned into umpiring.”
“I’m on my bus at 6:30 in the morning, or if its been storming, earlier. Basically you go through a process to make sure the important aspects of the operation of the bus are safe to roll. Once you go through that, which takes about 15 minutes, especially on days like today you see if you get things heated up a bit before the trip. By 7:15 or so, I’m on the road, do my two morning runs. Some days I’m done until 2 o’clock, or I’ll have to go fuel, clean the bus, other things. It depends on the day. I end up back here at 4:30 and the day is done. I like what I do, for me and others who I’ve talked to, this was a nice way to wind things down. I love the independence of what I do. I know what’s expected, I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck.”
“The interaction with the kids is a big part of the job. I look at it first and foremost as a challenge. One of the things you never know is what this child has seen, what their morning has been like so far. What has their life been like since they left school yesterday? Not that I’m dying to know that, but I’m very sensitive to that. I was trained and taught that the first thing I do is say ‘hello’ to every child that gets on my bus, usually by their name. I don’t say ‘good morning,’ because for some of these kids, it’s not a good morning and you’re the first smile they see. I have 140 students that I travel, and after a few weeks I know almost every one of them by their name.”
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