By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
Judy Young Scott drove her last bus route Friday for the Corsicana Independent School District, after driving about 1 million miles on the same route, the longest route the district has.
Young leaves the bus barn on 45th Street every morning at 4:50 a.m. precisely, and drops off her last student at school at 7:40 a.m. She’s a stickler for always being on time.
For 31 years, she’s driven four hours a day, picking up and dropping off special-needs kids not only in Navarro County but in neighboring counties, as well, because of the special education program that Corsicana offers. Between the morning and afternoon routes, she drives 186 miles a day. Some years, she didn’t miss a single day of the 187-day school year.
Originally, the route was just for hearing-impaired children, but now there are students on her bus with a variety of medical and learning needs.
It’s a special route in more than one way, as well. Because they’re special needs students who often start school at the age of 3 and may graduate at 20 or 21, the students never change to another bus unless they move away. Scott has been the driver for some children for 17 or 18 years.
“I love my route. I love my kids,” Scott said. “You get to know their parents and siblings, and even after school they call and keep up.”
Although she’s only 66, Scott is retiring now to be closer to home. Her husband has had some health issues and Scott is eager to do some traveling that doesn’t involve those same 100 miles through Seven Points, Trinidad, Chatfield and Corsicana.
“I want to do things. I want to go back to Alaska,” she said Friday. “I want to travel.”
Scott has four children and six grandchildren. Years earlier rules were more relaxed, and Scott’s youngest daughter was practically raised in the bus barn, and spent many an afternoon riding the route with Scott, doing her homework on the bus.
Things have changed over the years, Scott said, most for the better.
Originally, her bus was a van, with no lights or special accommodations. Now, she drives a specially equipped bus and it’s air conditioned, which is a big improvement for kids who are stuck in a vehicle for two hours on a hot May or August afternoon, Scott said.
Another change is that there is an aide on each of the special needs buses now.
Scott’s current aide, Taylor Horn, has been with her two years. He’s learned punctuality and an appreciation for country and western music from Scott, which he admits is not his normal cup of tea. Mostly, though, he’s watched and learned from her example of how to deal with children that brings out their best.
“She treats the kids like her own children,” Horn said. “She does not let them get away with anything, but she really cares about them. And not just getting them to school but how they’re doing.”
In 31 years, Scott’s had two accidents. In one, a pickup truck was hit, but the heavy-duty school bus was hardly dinged. The driver of the other vehicle had warrants out on him, so he got arrested. And in the other, a deer ran into the side of the bus. The deer didn’t fare well.
Retiring will mean some changes in her life, Scott said.
She’ll have to learn to sleep later than her normal wake-up at 3:30 a.m. Rising early has become so automatic that even on vacation she has a hard time sleeping late.
“That will be hard to learn but then I won’t have to go to bed with the chickens,” Scott said. She retires each night at 8 p.m. to be able to get in enough sleep.
Scott has done it for three decades because she enjoys the children. She seldom experiences behavior problems, and the kids can be incredibly sweet and fun, she said.
“They make it all worthwhile,” she said.
As a little girl, Scott wanted to be a truck driver, like her dad. She did get her commercial driver’s license and drove with her first husband, also a long-distance truck driver, for 20 years.
It was only much later, when she was a stay-at-home mom that Bill Hicks talked her into coming to drive a bus, and the rest is history.
On her last day, the other drivers hosted a reception for Scott with a giant homemade cake and gifts, a card and compliments and hugs. They’d miss her cookies and motherly ear, they said.
“She’s left a little bit of herself behind,” one said fondly.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at email@example.com. Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org