witnessed an amazing home run at the Dodgers game last month, and I captured the moment on cell phone video. I shared the post with my social network via Facebook. Seconds later, friends around the country began commenting. Instant responses always amaze me. Today, engagement with social media and mobile devices is habitual. I check my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts daily on my iPhone, tablet and laptop. Social media is here to stay, and its continually evolving how adults and children commu- nicate and disseminate information with each other without regard to privacy. Hundreds of social networks are allowing people to connect and interact in ways that would make your head spin just five years ago, and they are growing larger and larger every day. As much as social media is a good thing, it has a

negative side, too. Kids who communicate online do so in private, without considering the ramifications of who is watching and reading. One school bus contractor I spoke with described in detail how kids on the school bus are their own report- ers these days. He recounted his experience of driving a school bus. “I glanced back in my mirror to witness a sea of school-issued tablets and personal cell phones, all above the seat backs, likely capturing every moment of me driving the school bus. Tat’s a lot of pressure to be constantly watched, judged and then see your actions posted on YouTube.” Yes, students are uploading video of their morning and afternoon routes directly online. Sometimes they are even streaming live. “It’s changed the game,” commented the school bus contractor. Are your drivers aware that they are always being watched, and not simply by the school bus camera system? Be sure they are keenly aware of their surroundings so they can avoid becoming the next viral video PR catastrophe. Have you ever searched for negative posts related to

you school district or company on social sites? You might be surprised what you find your school bus drivers and staff doing. Do you know of students friending or direct messaging your school bus drivers? Not sure? Instill in your drivers that they need to protect themselves by immediately documenting any attempted

74 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018

communication and sharing it with HR or a supervi- sor. Allegations of impropriety,

true or not, can be

extremely damaging to one’s personal and professional reputation. Drivers are supposed to be the adults, in a position of trust, and they need to use common sense. Drivers may also have the best intentions and be trying to promote a positive relationship, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Denver Public Schools actively monitors its social me- dia channels and websites and is discovering that social media also documents good stories that need to be told. “Te communications team is always trying to find ways to work with our schools to share positive images and stories about student success and interaction,” said Executive Director of Transportation Nicole Portee. “Communicating to parents and the community through mediums like social media is important for DPS.” Still, the scrutiny placed on school bus drivers is immense. No wonder why we are dealing with an industry-wide driver shortage. Who would carry the burden of 60 students’ lives for less than $15 an hour, part-time and only 10 months a year? Perhaps you did at one point. But times have changed, and now you are in a position to effect positive change. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to continue expect- ing so much from a person when other vocational and commercial drivers are making double or even triple their hourly wages. It’s a big issue to wrap our heads around, but its clear to me that someway, somehow, the industry needs to address the large wage gap for the job being performed.

Te best way to keep school bus drivers motivated and attract new ones is through positive recognition. Make sure you leverage your social platforms to share positive interactions and stories. It’s a great way to connect the social network of parents, kids and the community on the great jobs these hard-working folks do every day. And in the process, you may unlock the full potential of your employees, no matter what they earn. 

Tony Corpin, Publisher

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