Meet the kind bus driver who watched over a boy with Down syndrome for a decade.

In the already unpredictable world of public schools, the school bus often serves as the ultimate harbinger of chaos.

Between the savage cliques and the general lack of adult supervision, it's basically "Lord of the Flies" on wheels.

And for the majority schools with ever-shrinking budgets and ever-shrinking staffs, it's the drivers of these buses who are assigned the unique responsibility of both containing that chaos and obeying the rules of the road.


Remember that family road trip you went on last fall? Or that time you had to shuttle half your kid's soccer team to practice? Try doing that with 30 kids every. single. day.


GIF from "Billy Madison."

But for Ty Coppola, a 19-year-old student from Fairport, New York, it was his bus driver who left a huge impression on him.

Ty has Down syndrome, and for the most part, communicates through nonverbal expressions. Like most of us, Ty relies on certain "constants" to help him get through the average day, a facet of his personality that his family tries to maintain as best as they can.

For the past 10 years, one of the biggest constants in Ty's life has been his bus driver, Scott Reynolds.


Photo from the Coppola family, used with permission.

A bus driver at the Fairport Central School District for the past 35 years, Scott quickly formed a bond of friendship with Ty, one of the 12 students on his daily route.

"We just hit it off," said Scot to WHAM in Rochester, New York. "He's a good kid."

The fist bumps and a how-do-you-dos that Scott shared with Ty often were a highlight of Ty's day, filling him with a positive mindset to bring into school.

"If I could ONLY show you a picture of how Ty’s face 'lights up' when we open the garage and he sees Scott open the doors of the bus every morning," described Ty's parents. "How he has a little extra 'spring' in his step when Scott says 'good morning, Ty' or 'what got into you today?'"

So when Ty's family found out that Scott would be retiring, they wanted to give him a truly unforgettable thank you.

On the eve of his retirement, the Coppola family presented Scott with a heartfelt letter thanking him for the profound influence he has had on their son's life.

"How can we explain that Scott has been so much more than 'just a bus driver' to Ty?" read the letter.

"He cheers him up, gets his day started positively every day, and ends it with a smile. He is like another dad, or at least a big brother to Ty. "

Ty's family went on to describe Scott as "irreplaceable" and someone who will hold "a special place in our hearts forever."

Ty and his family, used with permission.

If the recent PSA from CoorDown taught us anything, it's that Down syndrome is still a largely misunderstood affliction.

It is also one that acquires a unique and attentive support system, which Scott was willing to provide through simple kindness from the very first day that he picked Ty up.

"Ty has known Scott for many years," the letter read. "I think Scott can 'read him' as well as we can at times."

"It is not always the people with a big title or position of influence that make a difference in the lives of kids with disabilities. It is often those that provide direct care for them and spend time with them every day that make the biggest difference. Scott has been one of those people that care. Really care. I am so impressed by people like Scott. "

According to School Transportation News, Scott is still finding semi-employment as an AAA driving instructor, but he is eyeing retirement to help watch over his aging parents.

Ty, meanwhile, has a new driver now and continues to study at the School of the Holy Childhood.

The takeaway here is a simple one: BE NICER TO YOUR BUS DRIVERS (but also, pay it forward).

One of the amazing things about this whole human experiment is that we all possess the capabilities to almost effortlessly cause a positive change in our environment. It's the most immediately gratifying concept there is, next to Dippin' Dots, and one of the defining characteristics of what makes our species great.

But mainly, be nicer to your bus drivers.

Tell your children that their territorial spitball wars can wait until recess. Or at least lunch.

Your driver will thank you for it.

GIF from "Billy Madison."

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture