Entries Tagged as 'Yellow Bus'

Theodora Mautz, a Lincoln High senior, Scores Big

Theodora Mautz, a Lincoln High senior

Lincoln High student Theodora Mautz, whose intellectual curiosity makes her an outstanding student in fields from science to music to law, scored the top possible score on both the ACT and the SAT college entrance exams, an apparent first in Oregon. (Lorijo Daniels / Lorijo Daniels Photography )


Tales from the Yellow Bus has been all but retired, since I no longer drive the big buses. I just had to comment about a former student who made the news this month.

Theodora Mautz, a Lincoln High senior with parents from Pendleton and Beijing, achieved perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT college entrance tests this year, an apparent first in Oregon.

I always looked forward to seeing Theodora in the morning, always cheerful, sometimes rushed, very accomplished. She had a interesting homelife and frequent trips to China. I miss seeing her and wish her all the best as a freshwoman in college.


Portland Teachers and Drivers Headed For A Strike?

One of the nation’s largest school bus companies has announced it is closing its doors after union members voted to reject a contract that would have kept the company in business.

With its labor costs among the highest in the nation, Atlantic Express, a Staten Island, NY bus company attempted to negotiate a new contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union.
However, union members rejected the deal last week.
The city opened up the 4,100 school bus routes to bidding and for the first time non-union companies could compete.
The city of Portland is currently negotiating with the teachers union and school bus drivers are negotiating with First Student. Drivers, members of the ATU rejected the last contract offer. It now appears likely both teachers and drivers will strike after January 6, 2014.  Is the answer to go the non-union route and is Portland looking at a repeat of New York? Stay tuned.

My Future Career Tip!

Yesterday, I picked up a Prestige Limousine client in Lake Oswego and took him to PDX for a flight home. As we crossed the Willamette on the Marquam Bridge, we took in the progress of the new light rail bridge being built. He told me that everything, like a bridge, is now built on a computer in the cloud and all sorts of engineering decisions are made there. An engineer can subject the bridge to various loads, make design changes, subject the design to earthquake stresses all on the computer. Because the design is in the cloud, what used to take two to three days for each iteration, even with a powerful computer, now can be viewed instantly or can take as much as a 30-minutes. The cloud substantially decreases the design time, cuts production or manufacturing time, cuts costs and increases safety.

I shared with him the bus charter of children that took us to the new Sellwood Bridge. The children saw from water level the result of shifting a working bridge 30 to 60 feet downstream, so a new bridge could be built in its place. They saw how new piles coffer dams were built and met the engineers working on the project. I doubt if it impressed the children, but I was astounded that most of the civil engineers were women fresh out of college in the last two years. When I grew up, engineers were men.

Big pipe to be used for the new bridge concrete.

Looking up at the old, shifted Sellwood.

My charter bus under the new bridge supports.

Here’s my future career tip: My passenger says his company is looking for female engineers to hire. I failed to ask him why. Maybe women bring a unique perspective to a project; maybe they demand less in salary; maybe it’s good for morale; maybe the answer is none of the above. Whatever, his company wants to hire female mechanical and electrical engineers. All they can get. This is still an area dominated by men, he told me. So if you like to design or build things and you’re a woman consider becoming in demand mechanical and electrical engineers.

Tales From The Yellow Bus

I have so many interesting passengers in the summer. Thursday, I was hired to go to Madison High School, pick up 18 adults, and take them to three schools. The employer was SchoolHouseSupplies.org. The adults were volunteers and were helping to deliver backpacks filled with school supplies to Woodmere, Kelly and Whitman.

“Schoolhouse Supplies is an award-winning nonprofit that supports public education in Portland by giving students and teachers free classroom supplies. (They) operate Oregon’s only volunteer-run Free Store for Teachers, which is stocked with supplies donated by the community, the Tools for School backpack giveaway, and Schoolhouse Supplies Online programs.

As Portland area schools enter the back-to-school season, 12,941 students will return to find the supplies they need, instead of an empty desk. This year, 25 local businesses have stepped up to sponsor the Schoolhouse Supplies Tools for Schools program, which provides students in need with a free backpack filled with school supplies to support an entire year of learning. The program partners local businesses with high-need schools, where over 65% of students live at or below the poverty line.”

Thursday, the volunteers unloaded a total of 1500 back packs in the heat in five hours.

My first question to Sara, the leader, was, “Back to school sales must be a big sales time for retailers. How do they feel about you giving away free back packs and supplies to every student?”

The answer surprised me. Many of the sponsors are retailers: Walmart, Meyer Memorial Trust and The Fred Meyer Fund, The Safeway Foundation, Kroger Foods / Fred Meyer Stores, Adidas America, Inc., Nike, Inc., Target, Albertsons, etc.

I didn’t know volunteers provided school supplies to schools with a high level of poverty. So no one feels slighted, all students in the school start the year with new equipment. You can help next year. Be a volunteer by donating your time or donate money and supplies.

Tales From The Yellow Bus

I just spent eight hours yesterday with fourth and fifth graders from King Grade School taking them on the big yellow bus to Rooster Rock State Park where we picked up Ranger Price. He gave them a tour of the park. I asked the ranger, “Where’s the sand?” The water is high to protect the fish and won’t return to lower levels until Labor day, he told me. Then Ranger Price led us on a tour of the Vista House at Crown Point, Latourell falls, where we had lunch, and finally, we all hiked a half mile to Bridle Vale falls. We learned to stay on the path and stay on the right side.

At Crown Point a New Zealander on vacation wanted a picture of the big yellow bus. I said to him that he has a beautiful country and he said every country has beauty. You couldn’t beat the beauty of Crown Point. Some tourists from Holland approached the bus. They had never been on a school bus, so I allowed them to come aboard. They don’t have school buses in Holland. People walk or ride their bicycles, as a rule.

I’ve been in the Columbia River Gorge a lot, but I’ve never seen Bridle Vale Falls . We had a wonderful time and the day was a beautiful, sunny day. Let me say that the kids from King were polite, curious and honored their school and themselves. Their extra three weeks in school were funded by a $2 million grant. Most kids on the bus had never been to the Columbia River Gorge.

Tales From The Yellow Bus

I had the pleasure yesterday from 5:00pm to 10:30pm to drive residents and visitors of the World Domination Summit (WDS) from The Schnitz to the Zoo. I asked the attendees, “Was the WDS a political movement or an individual movement? The answer I got seemed to be that WDS is a movement to open attendees to the power of themselves to be. BE, DO, HAVE comes to mind! You first be a happy person, do the things that a happy person does, and you will have joy in your life.

Don’t believe me? A young woman walked up the bus stairs, gave me a huge, genuine smile, stuck out her hand as she looked me in the eye, focused on my face and said, “Hello, I’m Hanna!” “Wow,” I immediately thought, “she cares about me and that feels good!” I smiled a big smile and told her, “I’m Mike!” My bus was the “FUN” bus. It said it by the door and Hanna just made this a fun trip to the Zoo. Everyone, in one way or another got on the bus with a big smile and left with a pat or a big thank you.

There must be something to this World Domination Summit and the attendees. I’ve never heard of the WDS, but for sure Bev and I will go next year.

Enjoy the city of Portland.

BTW, to Lauren who asked for restaurant recommendations, I have three more: Higgins, South Park and Pastini

Tales From The Yellow Bus

I had a rare treat last night. I was the yellow bus shuttle driver for the National Championship of Goalball, driving between the Comfort Inn in Vancouver to McLoughlin Middle School where the competition was held. The competitors are blind and come from as far as New York and Florida.

Vancouver is hosting the National Championship of Goalball. What is Goalball? It’s is a sport for the blind started after World War II “as a way to help rehabilitate blinded war veterans.” It’s a three on three sport that is a combination of soccer and bowling. One side attempts to score a goal by throwing a blue goalball filled with bells. The opposing team attempts to block the ball by throwing their padded bodies in front of the ball. The goalball can reach speeds of 45 mph and can leave bruises. One player moaned the fact that he forgot his “cup” for one match and another player said a shot to the armpit hurt for a couple of days. Referees check the facemasks prior to the match to make sure the athlete is completely sightless.

Photo by Zachary Kaufman

Imagine playing dodge ball sightless only you don’t know until the last second that the ball is coming and you want to get hit to stop the ball.

The athletes were all a friendly bunch, men and women in their 20s and 30s, some with canines and walking sticks. One young man was 10 when I was married in 1992. Another group was from Arizona and loved our weather. He said it was over 100 degrees when he left. He loved that it was only 65 here. He was hoping it would rain!

Tales From The Yellow Bus

School ended yesterday for the school year. It was so heartening to see my seniors graduate and give hugs and wish then well at De Pauw, and Oregon, and UC Berkeley and so many, more places. I also learned from my daughter that I was distantly related to two sisters that rode the bus to Lincoln. Small world!

One girl said, “I was the best bus driver she ever had!” Many came up and wished me a great summer. This is my fourth or fifth year driving Lincoln High students. Wonderful kids; my second group of “grand kids.” I cared for them as if they were my own. There is nothing sweeter to my ear than girls giggling. I hope they all remember to laugh. And for Bea, one more story to end the year.

I was in the bathroom and saw a sign that said, “Employees must wash your hands!” I waited and waited. No employee showed up, so I had to wash them my self.

Tales From The Yellow Bus

Been driving the Yellow Bus for almost seven years and this is the first I’ve overheard a student say, “…not wearing any underwear.” I was so surprised that I almost planted a student’s nose in the floor as I started up without all in their seats. I don’t know if she was referring to herself or someone else and I sure wasn’t going to ask!

Threat of Strike by School Bus Drivers

If negotiations fail, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in New York which represents school bus drivers may strike this week. The issue is over rebidding the contracts which could save $95 million per year and would not protect the driver’s benefits. The ATU in Portland representing school bus drivers, is in negotiations over a new contract with the contractor, First Student.

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