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Best bus driver: Arnsdorff a true ‘team player’ in South Bryan
Traci Profar Arnsdorff.
South Bryan Transportation Driver of the Year Traci Profar Arnsdorff.

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When asked “what makes a good school bus driver?”, South Bryan’s 2021-2022 Bus Driver of the Year said two things probably take a front seat.

“You have got to make sure you like kids and you’d better have a little patience,” said Traci Proman Arnsdorff, a veteran of nine years full time driving and two years as a substitute. “Driving the bus is probably the easy thing. You learn how to do all that, and learn all the parts of the bus. Learning to drive with the children behind you, they don’t teach you that in training.”

That’s a skill you learn behind the wheel, and it’s clear he Richmond Hill native enjoys her work.

For one thing, Arnsdorff said it offers her a chance to be on the same schedule as her son, Bradley, a student at Richmond Hill Middle School.

For another, it actually helped put her through college.

Arnsdorff, a 1989 graduate of Richmond Hill High School, drove from 1992 to 1998 and used the money to pay tuition toward a medical assisting degree at South University, back when Richmond Hill was a much smaller place and the routes were much longer, and students from of all ages from the youngest to the oldest rode the same bus.

Among those who know how it used to be before Richmond Hill boomed is Dr. Allen Cox, an RHHS grad and longtime administrator, teacher and coach now serving as director of transportation and maintance for South Bryan.

He’s seen his share of bus drivers come and go, and said Arnsdorff is “outstanding.”

“She loves her students and is always willing to help another bus driver with any issue,” Cox said.

“Her attendance is always exceptional and she is a true ‘team player.’” Arnsdorff, in turn, said Cox is “easy going, easy to work for,” she said. “As long as you’re doing your job.”

While the traffic’s gotten heavier as Richmond Hill’s population density increases, the routes have gotten shorter. These days, Arnsdorff drives three routes during the school year, ferrying between 125-130 kids a day to and from school every day.

It’s a schedule that typically starts shortly after 6 a.m. when Arnsdorff begins her Frances Meeks Elementary route. She follows that with a RHMS route she called the best there is “because they’re just good kids,” and then finishes up with the “Trischools” area off Highway 144 where Richmond Hill Elementary, Carver Elementary and Richmond Hill Primary form a triangle of sorts. Her school day mornings tend to wrap up about 9:15 a.m. Later in the day, the process repeats itself from 2 to 5 p.m. Throughout, it’s part science – guiding a school bus through traffic – and the rest is an art. In Arnsdorff’s case, that art starts each school year with her introducing herself to her students and getting to know them.

“You’ve just got to learn how to talk to them. If they know you care and you are willing to listen to them, they’re happy,” she said.

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