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3 generations drive Western School District students to school

Three generations drive Western students to school
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:25 PM EST
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SPRING ARBOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - Half of the school districts nationwide said they are desperate for bus drivers, including districts like Western School District in Jackson County.

There’s one family that is stepping up hoping to change that.

Related: Mid-Michigan bus driver aims to bring cheer to every ride

“I am pretty much driving every day a route. Even if it’s just a route an afternoon or a whole day. I’m pretty much a different bus each day,” said Hannah VanSumeren, Western Bus Driver

VanSumeren got her commercial driver’s license about two months ago. Now, she’s Western School District’s only substitute bus driver.

“It really was the best decision for my family to do,” VanSumeren said. “Because I have kids, really for them it was the best decision.”

VanSumeren said she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a school bus driver.

“I was kind of reluctant on it because my mom did it, and my grandma did it. I was like ‘man, I don’t want to do that, it sounds so hard,’” she said.

Her mom and grandma are still driving for Western schools. The three generations of drivers share a bond on the road.

“Now I’m driving with kids on my bus, it is a lot different. I really do enjoy it. More than I thought I would,” said Hannah VanSumeren.

“I really like the relationship with the kids. They keep you on your toes for sure,” said Susan Cummings.

“Getting to see them go from a kindergartner to even a fifth-grader. Just watching them grow up,” said Beth VanSumeren.

Beth VanSumeren, the second generation, said she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Every morning before we start our routes, we visit for 10-15 minutes. Then she goes, drives her bus and I drive my bus,” said Beth VanSumeren.

After driving for six years, she never expected her daughter would get behind the wheel.

“You know everybody says there’s no way I can be a bus driver. But you start riding and you start interacting with the kids. And you love the kids,” said Beth VanSumeren.

Susan Cummings, opened the door first, training her daughter to drive the bus.

“Even now, I lean on her heavily for keeping me up to date,” said Beth VanSumeren.

But, as a door opens, it also needs to close. Cummings is getting ready to retire in January after 28 years.

“Obviously I liked it. Or I wouldn’t have done it for 28 years. Like I said, I’ve enjoyed the kids on the bus. I got to see my grandchildren, my granddaughters, almost on a daily basis,” said Cummings. “It’s a big step down for me. That’s a challenge. I’m trying to deal with that.”

She knows she’s going to miss one thing.

“The kids. I don’t think I’ll miss getting up at 4:30 in the morning. I think I’ll adapt to that,” said Cummings.

School districts across Mid-Michigan need bus drivers. You can contact your local district if you’re interested.

Some are even offering signing bonuses for new drivers.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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