Many a day for the past nine years, a little white bus has rumbled through the streets of Minneapolis carrying precious cargo to and from preschool. Billowing with energy and enthusiasm, the man behind the wheel is more than a bus driver—he is a caretaker, a friend, and a role model to each and every child that boards his bus.
Described as “humble” by his colleagues and “fun and interesting” by the children, Mr. Willie’s unique and special flare makes him a very special and incredibly important part of the Way to Grow team. Transportation is a hardship for many of our families, and Mr. Willie works four days a week to help eliminate that barrier, always with a smile and wave, a story, and laughter.
Often the first and last Way to Grow employee our preschool students see, Mr. Willie makes it a point to be not just a driver, but an integral part of their lives every day. “My first priorities are the safety of the kids and making sure they get to school on time, but in that hour that I have those kids, I take advantage of any opportunity to engage with them. Engagement is education in and of itself, and that is important,” Mr. Willie shares. “We bond because I listen to them. Sometimes they have problems, sometimes they have concerns, and sometimes they just want someone to talk to.”
When asked about his favorite part of the job, Mr. Willie easily replies that it is the children who fill those seats. “Each child is different, and they are so intelligent and energetic. When I look at our bus, I see that we have the makings of future lawyers, doctors, politicians—almost every type of position that will contribute to our community in the future,” he expresses.
While most people dread the beginning of the work week, Mr. Willie is the exact opposite. “I can’t wait until Monday. I love my job.”