Precious Cargo: 37 years behind the wheel and still going strong

(WEAU) - Many have probably seen the 25,000 pound vehicles making their way through town, but have you ever thought about whose driving those school buses?

"I tell my kids I'm 27. I have one little guy he’s not buying it" said Shelly Theiste, school bus driver of 37 years.

For Shelly Theiste, driving bus route 342 is more than a job.

"My mother actually drove a bus and I was going to the university. Great part-time job when you’re in college. I get up really early hit the gym, leave the garage around 645."

Then she's on the road to pick up about 50 students for Meadowview Elementary. After driving 37 years, she's not thinking of retiring anytime soon.

Shelly's been around this block once or twice and now she's driving her second generation of students.

"Haven't got the point where I have a parent where I have their grandchildren yet," said Theiste.

She says she does it all for the kids.

"When we’re picking up students, we put on the perspective; we’re the first person from school that they are going to be seeing every day. So when you greet that child with hello and smile, it’s starting out their day on a positive note," said Theiste.

Then it’s time to drop them off.

When all's set and done Shelly has to check each seat on the bus to make sure there's no kids left behind.

Then she's back on the road to take a different group to North. But roads are not always friendly.

"And then you get people like that. That run through the stop sign," said Theiste.

That’s a $420 dollar fine and this isn't the first time.

"Grabbed the kid by the back of the collar and I said stop don't move, and he passed me on the right, through a light, off road,” said Theiste.

Shelly says cars pass her about twice a month.

"I don't understand why people don't get it," said Theiste.

But seeing the kids smile is what keeps her going and rewarding them with good behavior.

"Reminding kids hey sit down; remember that's part of the rules. They get picked. They get a little surprise and their get their name on student of the week," said Theiste.

Yet no matter what the day it is, you'll get a smile and a good morning from Shelly.

“Good morning Olivia. Good morning Isabella. Good morning Adam. I have a young lady I had her from kindergarten through 5th grade. She is a sophomore at Memorial I get Christmas cards. I see their family once twice a year,” said Theiste.

So if you see this bus gives a wave to Shelly as 37 years drive by.

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