HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) – The end of the school year can’t come fast enough for some students, but before they stepped off the bus in Hudson one school bus driver had as sweet surprise: Gift cards for ice cream and letters of encouragement after a challenging school year.
Getting students to and from school is part of the job as a Petermann bus driver in Hudson, but for Matthew Jones this job was never part of the plan.
“I thought I would be teaching this year,” said Jones. “And then COVID hit and not many places were hiring for PE teachers in the middle of a pandemic.”
The 2019 college graduate in need of a job decided to put his driving skills to use in the same school district he says he did some student teaching — but driving is not what got him noticed by colleagues, parents, and students.
It’s the end-of-the-year gift cards, and letters Jones gave to students on his route that left many speechless.
“Always be true to yourself, have fun, be open to new things,” said high school freshman Alyssa Sykes reading the letter.
Sharon Sykes and her daughter said they were surprised by the act of kindness. Wednesday, they gave a thank you letter to Jones.
“He drives the younger kids as well, he turns his buses into roller coasters and dance parties stuff like that. He’s done such a great job,” said Sharon Sykes.
“He told me to keep working harder at volleyball to become a better player because he knows I have the potential. It almost made me cry tears of joy because he is so nice,” said the student.
Sykes said Jones remembers details about all the students interests on his route and asks how their day is going as they get on the bus.
“The students are my passion, PE is my passion but really education is my passion,” said Jones. “I want to make my career in that.”
He hopes to teach full time at a local district next school year, but until then he’s sharing words of wisdom with students and credits his education at Kent State University for his dedication to teaching.
“He said getting older means more hard things will happen, but as long as we keep pushing past them, we are going to do great things,” said Sykes.
It’s advice Jones said he learned to live by when things didn’t go as planned, so he quoted a famous line in the letters to students.
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” said Jones.