Maybe the first thing to know about Lynn Keen the school bus driver is she truly loves her job.
She said she has to.
“You have to love it, you have to care about it,” said Keen, recently named the North Bryan County Schools Bus Driver of the Year. “You are driving around somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son, somebody’s grandchild. Hey, I have grandchildren, and I love to know when they’re not in my presence they’re being taken care of.”
Second, she’s about the biggest cheerleader you could find for North Bryan Transportation and its leader, Allen Clark.
“These people genuinely care, and they love their jobs and want to do everything right. I wouldn’t hesitate one minute to put my grandchildren on a bus with any of these drivers.”
Keen, who hails from South Georgia and is a former business owner in Tennessee – she did pigmentation makeup for burn patients – as well as a one-time substitute teacher, got into school bus driving when she moved to Pembroke to be near her family and her daughter, Raime Stewart, talked her into it.
“She said, ‘Mom, I love it,’” and if I knew then what I know now, I’d of gotten into it a lot sooner,” Keen said.
That was seven years ago. She hasn’t looked back, despite challenges that come with COVID-19 and the requirement for masks and social distancing and all the rest.
All of which have been surmountable obstacles, as far as Keen is concerned, because of the leadership of Clark, who “is a no-nonsense kind of guy who has taught us so much and built a great team. I honestly feel North Bryan Transportation goes about 25 deep with drivers that would qualify for this award. It’s an awesome team.”
That teamwork, Clark’s leadership and the relationships Keen said she builds with the families of kids she gets to know makes being a school bus driver more than just a job.
“I’ll see them at the store and we stop and talk and catch up, and in a way you become part of the family,” she said, noting over her seven years on the job she’s now driven for some kids from elementary through high school.
What’s more, Keen said you have to have a heart for the kids you’re charged with delivering to and from school safely twice a day, five days a week, for more than 180 days a year in most years. “They’re wonderful,” Keen said of the children she drives. “They all have their own little ways, and you have to take the time to look at them as individuals instead of a group of kids.”
In doing that, Keen believes what she is doing is making the world a better place.
“If you look at the bigger picture, this little boy here I’m driving to school today is going to grow up and he might someday be my neighbor and have kids of his own, and so I’ll do what’s in my power as a bus driver to make sure he’s taken care of,” she said.