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Transporting students to school is one of the most precious jobs in the educational system of public schools as we know it here in America. Bus drivers ought to not only be paid but should be recognized much more than they are on a regular basis. Without their unique and invaluable services, all of our jobs will come to a halt.

Borrowing from the thought of “What would the world be like without black people?” I ask ‘what would the schools be without students?’ These are only rhetorical questions that need not be answered.

No child should be left behind. When you see a bus driver, thank him or her and do it sincerely.

We can all use a genuine "thank you" from time to time. It makes us feel good and we become recharged, motivated and excited to continue our journey of serving others.

We are all in this together and we must discover ways that our students win on every side of their academic lives. The first thing is to get our students to school safely every day.

With the recent developments in Orangeburg County School District’s discrepancies in pay for bus drivers and claims of bus drivers not being paid at all, we must sympathize with them as everyone has bills to be paid that are labeled with due dates, harassing creditors and threats of loss.

On the other perspective, we must also recognize the birth of a new school district being consolidated into one. Growth takes time. Innocent mistakes are inevitable.

This is no excuse for what happened. Yes, metaphorically speaking, the new superintendent and his financial personnel deserve a little spanking on the hand as a reminder that this should not happened again.

But what the superintendent does not deserve is antagonistic energy plotting against his efforts in constructing a solid school system that has the best interest of the students at heart. We want our students to win. In order for our students to win, we must allow the superintendent time to craft, organize and implement a blueprint of administrative procedures and protocols to be established from budgetary issues to busing our students to school so that no child is left behind.

We must not build animosity. We must not hold grudges. We must be forgiving and let go of the hurt, pain, and disappointment of this rare, usual and isolated experience.

In moving forward as a district, we must be thoughtful, reasonable and rational in dealing with others.

Conflicts happen. Mistakes occur. Miscommunications take place. These are the flaws of life.

The greatest news that comes from all of this is that everyone in Orangeburg County now knows that the district has a superintendent who is honest, transparent and approachable.

When a man of Dr. Darrell Johnson’s status comes forward, admits a lack of inadvertent vigilance and apologizes publicly, in him, we see a man who has a mark of great leadership through the lenses of being trustworthy, fair and caring.

May the hearts of those caring and dedicated bus drivers affected by the mistakes be healed real soon.

Thanks for their patience, their integrity, and their boldness to march forward to claim what they rightfully felt was theirs. While all of this could have been easily avoided with clear, timely and accurate notifications to all bus drivers, it did not happen in the way they desired.

At the end of the day, everyone should be willing to accept the superintendent’s apologetic confession. We ought to hail such great character, humility and professionalism with high esteem.

Must we be reminded that we all make mistakes? We all need the grace and mercy of others. Remember: “We Are One!”

For the sake of all the children in Orangeburg County School District, everyone must work together. Remember, it was South Carolina’s native daughter, the legendary Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, in her last will and testament, who urged each of us to live harmoniously with one another. Let’s do that.

Don’t forget to thank a bus driver. Without them, our collective effort to educate the children in South Carolina and beyond becomes nearly impossible.

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Byron Brown, a native of Eutawville, is a 1983 graduate of Holly Hill-Roberts High School. He is an English teacher for Prince George’s County Public Schools in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and serves as a professor of English at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Brown was named Clarendon School District 1 Teacher of the Year in 2004 and 2010. He is the author of five books and is the founder and organizer of the South Carolina Heritage and Humanities Festival.

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