Keith Moultrie is a longtime master plumber who started driving school buses five years ago and loves every minute of it, so much so he calls it a joy.
Bob Miller is retired from both the Army and spent 10 years working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons before he decided to give school bus driver a try.
That was eight years ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Or missed a day of work.
Both men were honored Sept. 26 at the Bryan County Board of Education meeting in Richmond Hill. Moultrie was named North Bryan’s best school bus driver for 2018-2019. Miller picked up the award for South Bryan’s top school bus driver.
Here’s a bit about each man, starting with Miller.
Miller drives three different routes in South Bryan– an elementary school route, a middle school route and another special education route. He also drives buses for sports and other events, such as band trips.
“I log maybe 300 miles a week, depending on what’s going on,” Miller said.
He said after he got out of the military and then finished a decade in the federal prison system, he decided to give bus driving a try.
“It’s kind of interesting,” Miller said. “When I was in the military and told soldiers what to do, they’d do what I’d say. And when I was in the prison system I’d tell inmates what to do, and they’d say OK, and do it. Now I get to driving kids, and I started out by saying to them to do what I say, and they’d just look at me like I’m crazy. It’s a whole different world.”
What Miller learned, he said, was that a bus driver has to be willing to listen.
“It’s just paying attention, that’s what makes a good bus driver,” he said. “You’ve got to listen to kids, because every kid has a story. They’re just like anyone else, they have things they want to achieve and accomplish, and you try to help them by listening to them. So in this job, it’s a little bit of talking, but it’s a whole lot of listening.”
In that regard, Miller, who said he usually has anywhere from 45 to 50 kids on a bus, said a driver needs to be “a little bit of everything.”
“While they’re on the bus, you’ve got to kind of be their mom and dad and everything in between, because when their parents put their children on the bus they’re your responsibility until you get them to school,” he said.
Miller, married and father to two children, said he doesn’t think the job is for everyone, but encourages anyone who might be thinking about it to give it a try.
“I’d definitely say give it a shot,” he said. “If you like it, it’s going to be great. If you don’t, you can always do something else. For somebody like me, who needs a little extra something to do, it might work.”
Moultrie, who at 6-foot-7 might be Bryan County’s tallest bus driver, handles the route from Pembroke to the Coastal Academy in Hinesville.
A master plumber by trade, the Chatham County native has since moved to North Bryan and said he’s always enjoyed working with kids. It comes from being a father.
“I have three of my own, all grown and in college,” Moultrie said. “One’s in pre-med, I have a daughter in Boston in her senior year, and my son’s in college in Atlanta. So I raised my kids and still loved working with kids, and this opportunity to do something different came along.”
Coastal Academy is an alternative school, and Moultrie said the students on his bus are good kids who want to learn.
“They’re motivated kids,” he said. “In their own way they’re motivated. I really enjoy these kids.”
The kids. That’s the best thing about being a school bus driver, Moultrie said.
And the worst?
Moultrie paused for a moment.
“I can’t really think of anything bad. But that’s me. I love working for kids. For me, it’s a joy.”