Editor’s note: This is the first in a four part series profiling local bus drivers for National Love the Bus Month.

For Longview ISD bus driver Stephanie Corry, her job is not just about getting students from Point A to Point B. She wants her bus to be more than a ride to school; she wants it to be something the students enjoy.

“It’s not a hard job. I love my job,” she said. “I love my kids. I treat all my kids like they’re my own, and I have a personal relationship with each one of them. The main thing is be kind to your kids.”

Corry has been driving a bus for Longview ISD for eight years. Before that, she drove for one year at Hallsville ISD. She started bus driving as a way to make extra money when her oldest son started driving, and she had the costs of his vehicle and insurance.

She drives mostly elementary and some middle school students for Johnston-McQueen Elementary School and Judson STEAM Academy. She also is an aide in a special needs class at Johnston-McQueen.

Corry’s love for the students on her bus drives her, she said. One year, she had a child who struggled with reading. He asked her to read with him.

“His parents weren’t reading with him at home, and they were not signing his reading log. So the teacher and I had a pact going that if he read to me, I could sign his paperwork and stuff for him,” she said. “He would read to me every afternoon. I thought that was always sweet, because he didn’t have that with anyone else. That was really special.”

She saves the flowers students pick her, stickers they bring her and paintings they make her. Corry said while she does not know if she is leaving an impact on her students, they each leave one on her.

“Some of them, when they get on the bus, you don’t know what kind of life they live at home. Some of them get on the bus and they’re like, ‘Oh Ms. Corry,’ and they just hug you,” she said. “And you can tell some, just by the way they talk and the way they act, what kind of relationship they have with their parents and what kind of life they have at home. They may just need somebody to talk to, and you know that. It just melts my heart.”

Students sing along to the radio on the bus during most of the year and sing Christmas carols during the holiday season. Corry said she also makes a paper chain and tapes it to the top of the bus toward the end of the school year. Each day they rip off one piece to count down to the end of school.

At the end of the day, Corry said she just wants her students to have a good time and to know she cares.

“I love my job driving the bus,” she said. “Any job can be challenging if you let it, but mine’s rewarding.”