Driving With Ms. Brittany
April 12, 2017 • 57 views
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It is a routine, Thursday afternoon. School bus number five is jam-packed with high school students. “Ms. Brittany!” A joking yell bursts out from the back of the school bus. The excited voice of a student resonates through the atmosphere, reaching the driver’s seat. “Can we go to the McDonald’s drive-thru? I’m starving.”
“No, someone already tried it, but unfortunately school buses are too tall for the drive-thru’s height limit,” Brittany Dielschneider chuckles while she pushes up the turn signal as the bus approaches an intersection.
Whether she is with high schoolers or young elementary students, Dielschneider, a 23-year-old bus driver, said she likes learning about the students by reaching out to them.
“I’ll ask my students what they did over the weekend or random questions to get to know them better,” Dielschneider said. “One time I asked them what kind of pets they have, and they all said ‘dogs and cats,’ but one of them said ‘hedgehog.’ So I was like, ‘Alright, that’s different.’ You have to mix it up and talk about what they would like.”
Jerry Sanchez, sophomore, relies on Dielschneider almost every day for a ride to school. He understands how challenging driving a bus can be.
“I think it’s difficult to be a bus driver,” Sanchez said. “There are a lot of people in one bus and it’s very difficult to focus on the roads if people are yelling and distracting her. Especially when there’s a lot of traffic, she needs to concentrate on driving because there might be an accident if she is distracted by the students.”
Even though students such as Sanchez see Dielschneider as a cheerful person, her past experiences were not always filled with sunshine. Dielschneider suffered from depression and an anxiety disorder throughout her life. These struggles followed wherever she went, affecting her in high school and her social life.
“Because of my depression, I was slacking and didn’t go to high school often,” Dielschneider said. “I got put into half-day program, which was more of a fast-paced program where I got stuff done faster and I didn’t have to be at school for too long. But then I was getting behind in all that. I ended up not getting along with anyone. Frankly, I didn’t wanted to get to know anyone.”
Dielschneider said she did not have problems with depression during elementary school. However, following her parents divorce, she had a rough patch when she had to move away from her father to live with her mother. But Dielschneider said her grandmother’s passing was the biggest contributor to her emotional struggles.
According to Dielschneider no one had more influences on her than her grandmother throughout her childhood. Whenever she had a problem, her grandmother’s care was her remedy. After her passing, she began to notice the symptoms.
“I didn’t learn how to cope with depression and anxiety until two years ago,” Dielschneider said. “I didn’t do anything about it because I didn’t know what was going on. Until you have depression or anxiety, you don’t understand what it is like for someone to have it. Everyone told me, ‘You are being lazy,’ but it’s not that you are being lazy, it’s more about finding who you are.”
Dielschneider’s depression persisted after high school, and it continued to affect her career. She bounced from job to job, mostly in retail and commercial service, before finding a job as a school bus driver. She said ever since she got the job as a bus driver in April, 2016, she fell in love with bus driving and it helped her cope with her disorders.
“I’m not sure how being a school bus driver helps me cope with depression, but I know that it just does,” Dielschneider said. “It’s something about driving a vehicle. Driving a car, a four-wheeler or a mud truck, those are things that I like to do. I’ve been trying to figure out how it helps me but I don’t know, it just works. Driving is what I love to do, and I get paid for it too.”
Dielschneider also credits her boyfriend, Randy Poff, and her son, Landon, for helping her with her disorders. Dielschneider said her son is intelligent for a 3 years old, even though she “may have biases” as a parent.
“Once you become a parent, the love for your child comes naturally,” Dielschneider said. “You can’t describe the amount that you love your child. It is unconditional and not like anything.”
Dielschneider and Poff live in each parent’s house, raising Landon together. Even with some financial difficulties, Dielschneider has a lot of ambitions for herself and her family’s future. She plans on buying a house with her boyfriend so they can start a family. She also dreams of getting a nursing license. She wants to do labor and delivery, as she always loved working with babies.
“I always wanted to be a nurse or something within that field,” Dielschneider said. “[I want to be a nurse] because I was around my grandmother so much. She took care of everyone and made sure everyone was provided of what they need. I think that’s where my personality came from.”
Inheriting her grandmother’s obliging personality, Dielschneider said she loves to help others, such as driving everyday around 40 to 70 miles to give transportation to school, home or extracurricular activities. Her work is noticed by students such as Sanchez, who feels a gratitude on her work.
“I appreciate her a lot because without her, I wouldn’t have rides to school,” Sanchez said. “It takes a lot of dedication to wake up early in the morning and pick up different people at different stops just so we can go to school and learn. Education gives all of us an opportunity in the future, so I’m very thankful.”