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Sherwood Park, AB When Rick Gabert first drove a school bus, Sherwood Park residents could buy five loaves of bread for $1.00 at the local Safeway, fans watched Paul Henderson score the Summit Series-winning goal against the Russians, and two new schools – Cloverbar Junior High and Glen Allan Elementary – had just opened their doors to students.

“When I started, I drove a route from the rural and urban Fort Saskatchewan area to Salisbury Composite,” says Gabert. “It was the only school in the area that offered training in the trades at the time, and so students had to travel into Sherwood Park to take those classes. Things have sure come a long way since then!”

On May 1, School Bus Driver Appreciation Day, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) gratefully acknowledges and celebrates the incredibly hard work of Rick Gabert and over 200 other drivers who safely transport 9300 students on 602 routes for a total of almost 18,000 kilometers per day.

“The job is not an easy one,” says Lisa Weder, director of Student Transportation for EIPS. “A great bus driver has to be an expert at navigating a 13 tonne vehicle through all sorts of weather, needs to have excellent control of a bus full of excited kids, and has to always keep student safety at the top of mind.  We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of drivers overseeing the pick-up and drop-off of EIPS students throughout the school year.”

When you ask Gabert what his favourite part of driving a school bus in Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, his answer is simple and heartfelt. “It’s the students. If you are fair to kids and treat them as individuals, you get that same respect and kindness directed back at you.  After all this time, people who rode on my bus decades ago recognize me out in public and still come up to say hello – it’s a really amazing feeling.”

PHOTO CAPTION INFORMATION:
Rick Gabert, a school bus driver who started transporting students from Elk Island Public Schools in 1972.

 

EIPS is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,100 students in 42 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.