Dude, Where’s My Bus?

Mornings with kids are tricky, right? Sometimes they oversleep and you just hope they brushed their teeth before they run out the door. Sometimes you oversleep and the kids are lucky to get out the door at all! And of course, no one can ever find their shoes… Thankfully, the JPS Transportation department is taking one piece of the morning and afternoon routines off your plates and making these transitions easier for everyone! Unfortunately, they can’t help your kids find their shoes but they can let you know exactly when your bus will arrive!

Launched last week, parents can keep track of their child’s bus using GPS both before and after school. Now, if you see that your bus is running a few minutes behind schedule you can take advantage of that time rather than wondering if you missed it. Conversely, if the bus is a little early, you won’t be taken aback by an early arrival. After school when there are appointments to get to and sitters to connect with, the system will help keep stress levels at a minimum for parents and kids alike.

All parents in the district were informed of the option to track their child’s bus through email but sign up is available anytime. You can visit the transportation website or call their office for help. [Please note that you will need your child’s name, address, date of birth, and student ID # to register/log on.]

Kip Medendorp, Director of Transportation, notes that the office has seen a decrease in phone calls from parents this week looking for their child’s bus which is helpful for staff and parents. Also, he is looking forward to next summer when, rather than sending a postcard to every bus-riding family, parents can log on in mid-July to see their child’s bus information!

Forest Hills is currently the only other district in West Michigan using a bus tracker system and Jenison is proud to stay in-step with this type of technology. Mr Medendorp says it make his job easier as he can track buses from his desktop but now, so can parents!

We hope all parents with kids riding the Jenison buses will take advantage of this new program. While it can’t make breakfast or heat up pizza rolls after school, it can help parents feel more informed and secure about their kids transportation!

If you experienced difficulty logging in after the initial email, we have worked out the technical bugs and things are running smoothly. We encourage you to try again if you haven’t already!

Thank you to Mr Medendorp, our transportation department, and bus drivers for keeping us on the edge of technology and, of course, keeping our kids safe on the roads!

 

 

 

 

 

Bus Driver is Humble Hero: A Story to be Thankful For

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Joey, Miss Kristin + Ethan

Halloween is never a typical day on a bus to begin with but for one bus driver and her students, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

It was early on in Kristin Bredeweg’s usual Friday afternoon bus drop off routine when she was approached by fifth grader, Joey Bonacci, who calmly reported that his friend, Ethan Dahl, was choking and he couldn’t breathe.

Leaving her red lights on, Kristin ran to the back and saw that Ethan was indeed, unable to breathe. She grabbed him into the aisle, wrapped her arms around him and performed the Heimlich maneuver.  Nothing happened. Ethan still wasn’t breathing. Kristin lost her mom earlier this year and in a brief moment of desperation she asked her mom for help and gave Ethan one more push. Air rushed into his lungs and he fell back in her arms. He was going to be ok.

miii9093Ethan says that he had been enjoying a hard candy before getting on the bus and he thinks a shard of it was what got caught in his throat. Joey knew he was choking, rather than goofing around, because Ethan had been laughing and all of a sudden, he wasn’t making any noise. Ethan and Joey have been friends since third grade and, along with their friend, Isaac England, they are always together on the bus and acknowledge they are good friends.

Kristin radioed into the Transportation office letting them know that Ethan was ok but there had been a medical emergency and asked them to please contact his mom. She told Ethan she wouldn’t leave until he waved at her from the front window before she shakily pulled away.

Kristin had never performed the Heimlich Maneuver and wasn’t sure she was even doing it correctly but she did what she says, any of the JPS bus driver would’ve done. “You love them like they’re your own kids. They’re not just your bus kids. When they’re in my care, they’re my kids. I just did what his mom would’ve done.” 

“I’m driving that bus, not because it’s a job, but because I love my job. I stay on my route because I know my families, because it’s relationships built in the community. There’s communication and relationships built between [yourself] and the families you drive for that make it worth sitting in the seat. They know I love their kids like my own.”

Kristin and Joey, there aren’t enough “thank you’s” and hugs to express how grateful we are for you and your quick and selfless reactions. Ethan, we are so very thankful that you are ok and we trust that you’ll avoid hard candy from now on!

Bond Dollars Hit the Road!

miii9763Last May the Jenison community voted in support of a Bond proposal that allows the district to keep up with the growing needs of our students, teachers and community. One of those very important [and practical!] needs was replacing ten buses in the current fleet which took place this summer.

According to Kip Medendorp, Director of Transportation, buses should be replaced every fifteen years to keep up to date on mechanics as well as gas mileage. However, with multiple needs facing the department, new buses had been put on hold until the recent Bond vote when the purchase of ten buses was able to move forward.

miii9745The old buses were sold at auction in July – the oldest of which was 23 years old [maybe some of our Jenison parents used to ride those Jenison buses?] and all of them experiencing some rust issues. The new buses are already out on the road and Mr. Medendorp says that both drivers and students are happy to have them and consistently show respect to the new equipment. One important safety feature on the new buses is a “sleeping student alarm” that requires drivers to walk to the back of the bus and push a button confirming the bus is empty within a certain amount of time. This, in addition, to the department’s policy to check for remaining students will continue to keep our students safe!

miii9782The transportation department isn’t stopping at new buses, though! The bond vote will also provide a new radio system and equip all buses with a GPS system. This will allow for the department to be able to locate a bus when needed. Additionally, they are planning to purchase tablets to be given to substitute drivers which will detail the route and each stop, replacing a print out that subs use now.  Finally, they are looking into putting cameras on every bus and joining an app for parents called, “Where’s my bus?” that would allow parents to locate their child’s bus at any time.

In accordance with the overall goal of improved communication, the department provides many online resources. You can visit their website here for information and complete their Transportation Request of Change form here. This school year, over 500 parents completed the form online saving the team and parents time!

Through the support of the community and the dedicated team in the Transportation Department, the whole student is honored, served well and kept safe from the beginning of their day to the end, “We try to make all the kids happy; we’re the first ones they see in the morning, the last in the afternoon and it’s a source of pride for our drivers to contribute to the students’ experience”.

miii9767-2Thank you to the Jenison community for your Bond support and to our bus drivers and transportation staff for keeping our kids safe! Don’t be shy when you see the Jenison buses on the road, give them a wave to say you’re thankful too!

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Much More Than Just a Ride To School!

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Our fearless Jenison Bus Drivers!

While much more than our eggs are being scrambled in the mornings, our Jenison Transportation Department is busy driving 33 buses on 29 routes to bring 1700 kids to school!  Every year, this team of 29 drivers [and 11 subs] drive more than 300,000 miles, stopping at 1500 stops each day!

MIII2807Transportation Director, Kip Medendorp, had been leading the JPS team since August but spent the last fourteen years as a Transportation Director with Whitehall and Reeths Puffer school districts and he’s been working in the field of transportation for 28 years.  He works hard to maintain a safe, efficient, cost effective system that follows state law and school policies. He also provides support to drivers to ensure successful runs as well as leading training, student discipline, bus stop information and overseeing bus repairs.

This year the department is working hard to improve parent communication by including more bus stop information on the their web page as well as providing the Bus Stop Change Form online that saves parents from having to call in when this type of change is necessary.

While it may seem no different than the shuttling parents do to team practices, dance classes, errands and club meetings, our JPS bus drivers are thoroughly vetted and trained before they hit the road!  “The first thing I ask is, if they like children.  After I explain the job responsibilities for transporting students, showing the run maps and showing how the bus works….if that hasn’t scared them off, we start the training process.   They will have to pass a physical and a background check. The person will then study a CDL manual, take a few written tests given by the Secretary of State and will be issued a driver training license.  They are trained for no less than 10 hours before they take their bus driver test.  Then we have the driver do some additional behind the wheel training with current Jenison drivers before we send them out alone.”

MIII2819Once they are on the road with students, drivers must maintain a safe and enjoyable bus ride while staying on a set schedule but they also provide that first and last smile of the day.  “Thinking back over the years, I have seen so many acts of compassion and kindness toward students.  I ride along on the bus from time to time and see the smiles on the children’s faces knowing that each driver is making a difference in their lives each day.”

JPS has a great group of professional drivers that love what they do and they treat each child on their bus as their own.  They often refer to the students on their buses as “my kids” and know each student by name.  The drivers are very proud of what they do and will keep their students on the bus safe.  Most of the drivers live and have families in the Jenison community, some are even former students.  Some drivers have been at JPS long enough to see the students start school and go on to graduate. ”

Thank you Jenison drivers and Transportation team members! Our students are safe and well-cared for because of you!

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New Buses Have Arrived!

As 2011 came to a close and many of you sat near twinkling trees opening new sweaters and ties, Jenison Public Schools opened the doors on a fleet of new, state-of-the-art school buses purchased with your bond dollars.

These buses join 30 existing others and are equipped with the finest technology available: power doors and complete undercarriages for equipment storage (think sports teams and field trips). They also boast rear engines which allow our drivers to better hear students inside the bus, as well as provide a tighter turning radius for city driving. Our new buses also meet all EPA standards for air quality and pollution control, helping us model environmental stewardship for our community.

Finally, we are proud to share that our entire fleet earned a 100% safety rating from the Michigan State Police this year, ensuring that Jenison kids are as well protected as possible while they’re being transported to and from school.

We feel so fortunate to be able to maintain our buses and retire those that have served their time well; furthermore, we know that we have them because you, our Jenison community, has stepped up and said YES to your public school system. Thank you for allowing us to use your bond dollars well!