Staff Secrets: Croton-Harmon High School Bus Driver Manuel Beltran
He’s an annual fixture at school bus rodeo safety competitions, and has consistently placed since 2000.
How did you become a school bus driver? I come from a family of bus drivers. Where I grew up in Chile, driving a bus is a respected profession. It’s what I always wanted to do. My school counselor thought there was something wrong with me because I was a really good student and my dad wanted to send me to college. But I knew what I wanted to do. I’ve been driving a bus for twenty-one years now.
Does the chaos inside your bus ever bother you? I had a lot of experience driving in Chile in the big city, so I am good at keeping the bus under control. With these kids, I learned that if I give them respect, then they respect me.
Do any driving conditions make you nervous? No. I love driving! I enjoy whatever is around. I don’t have a problem with traffic. I don’t rush. When I drive, I try to enjoy what I’m doing.
Tell us about your ‘bus rodeos.’ School bus rodeos are safety competitions. They are about maneuvering the school bus around a course, parking in small spots, sometimes using just mirrors, and applying all safety rules. I started competing in 1998. My first two times, I didn’t win anything, but, since 2000, I’ve always placed.
Do you train for your rodeos? Driving my bus is my training.
What’s your favorite memory? Last year, I drove the varsity football team to Syracuse for the State Finals. I also drive for Pace University, so I asked them to let me use their coach bus—it has better seating for long trips. It was a five-hour trip, but the bus was nice. We stopped whenever we needed to. It was fun.