Spotlights
Face of the Week: BCPS Bus Driver Tony Maxwell
Team BCPS is made up of thousands of accomplished and interesting students, employees, and community supporters. “Face of the Week” introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS such an amazing mosaic of talent, caring, and commitment.
09/26/2016

Face of the Week: BCPS Bus Driver Tony Maxwell

Like many parents, Rebecca Wyatt wanted a memory of the moment that her daughter, Sloane, stepped off the “big-girl bus” after her first full day of kindergarten.

Eight hours earlier, leaving for her first day at Mays Chapel Elementary School had been tough for the youngest of Wyatt’s four children. Sloane had a big personality, her mother says, “but we knew that first day would be difficult, even with her two older sisters getting on the same bus. There were a lot of tears.”

So when bus driver Tony Maxwell’s big, yellow BCPS bus lumbered into view, Wyatt, a professional photographer, wasn’t sure what her camera would capture when Sloane stepped off the bus. As red lights flashed and Maxwell brought his No. 5030 Thomas-built bus to a halt, Wyatt raised the camera to her eye, squinted, and waited.

The picture she snapped shows her daughter smiling, hand reaching for a railing, her head topped by a paper crown that states: “I love kindergarten.”  And behind her, Tony Maxwell looks after her, grinning slightly, making sure she safely steps down.

Later, Sloane would tell her mother about how nice the bus driver had been, calmly encouraging her, and even giving her stickers! And a week later, Wyatt would email a letter to Mays Chapel’s assistant principal, Kathleen Murray, to let her know how much this bus driver had meant to her daughter.

“I wanted to let you know that our bus driver this year, whose name I do not yet know, is amazing,” Wyatt wrote. “He has been so kind to Sloane through her tears and even had a sticker for her ready for her this morning and calmly encouraged her on the bus.  I can't imagine what getting her on the bus would be like if we had a grumpy driver.” She attached the photo she took.

Maxwell, 53, smiles at the memory. A few weeks later, sitting in a break room at the BCPS bus lot in Cockeysville, he says it’s children like Sloane who made him want to drive a bus. “I enjoy the interaction with the kids and their parents,” he says. “It gets to be like a family. You become part of their lives, and they become part of yours. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I get invited to. I go to concerts or sporting events, and I don’t have a kid in the school, but I go and I try to be supportive.”

Maxwell became a driver four years ago after retiring from a career with the county as a printer and an animal control officer. Initially, driving bus routes for Dulaney High, Ridgely Middle, and Pinewood and Mays Chapel elementary schools was a way to coordinate his schedule with that of his wife, Candy, a teacher at Carroll Manor Elementary School.

But his own history led him to driving, too – a graduate of Dundalk Elementary, Middle, and High schools, he’d also gotten to know the drivers who had driven his own children to school. “I knew how much they could mean to a child, because they meant a lot to mine,” he says. “It looked like a pleasant job. And I’m a fun guy, you know?”

Spotlight

Maxwell says his first responsibility is keeping passengers safe, but he keeps an eye out for students like Sloane who may need a little cheering up or encouragement, too. He’ll joke with some, rib those wearing Steelers jerseys, “try to connect,” he says. The rewards of driving make the hot buses and cramped time schedules worth it.

“It keeps you feeling young,” he says, flashing that grin again and checking the time for another afternoon run. “And you gotta do what makes you happy.”

Back at the Wyatt household, Rebecca prepares to move to a new home. Her children will still attend Mays Chapel, she says, but chances are the bus stop will change. “It makes me sad that we’ll be changing buses,” Wyatt says.

“Having a driver who was so calm and gently kind without being too much, making (Sloane) feel safe and welcomed, that’s been wonderful,” she adds.

Do you know of a special person who would be a good candidate for the BCPS “Face of the Week”? Let us know! Send their name, contact information, and what makes them special to cherndon@bcps.org.  

Black and white photo by Rebecca Wyatt Photography. For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157673107618571.   

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