Colleagues describe Mark Stretz as a “bus driver’s driver.” For more than 16 years, he has shown an unwavering commitment to his student passengers and his location team. “This is a great job,” says Mark. “I’m proud of what I do. Being a school bus driver is more than shuttling students back and forth to school. There’s a real opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.”
Driving the Open Road
Mark transports students who live in rural areas. He travels gravel roads where turkeys and deer are common sights. Mark covers five routes and drives approximately 170 miles every school day. “I enjoy the freedom,” shares Mark. “My favorite part of the day is in the morning as I head out on my routes. There’s no better feeling than knowing I am going to be helping students get to school safely.” Mark joined First Student in 2000. This was his first job in transportation. He later recommended his wife apply for a position with the company. She also became a First Student driver and even transports their grandchildren. Mark and his wife work alongside an experienced team of more than 100 drivers and staff in Council Bluffs who are responsible for transporting nearly 3,500 students each school day.
Because Mark drives rural routes, more time spent on the bus means more time to form relationships. Many of his students ride his bus from the first day of kindergarten until the last day of 12th grade. “I get to see them grow up,” says Mark. “Their parents become like friends. At the beginning of the school year, they love seeing that they have the same school bus driver. It helps to have stability.” He enjoys the daily interactions he has with his riders. Mark knows his actions and attitude set the tone for the bus ride. A smile and a warm greeting help to promote an open and respectful relationship between him and his students.
Strong Work Ethic
Serving as a school bus driver requires significant effort every day, and Mark prides himself in his strong work ethic. He has not missed a single day of work for the past six years. He has gained the trust of students and parents, and he does not want to let them down. “I don’t miss work,” shares Mark. “I was brought up that way. Families are depending on me to provide a reliable and safe way to get to and from school.” Mark understands transporting students is a tremendous responsibility that has to be taken seriously.
Heart of the Business
Our drivers are the heart of our business. As Mark shows, they don’t just drive, they care. “I want my students to feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated,” says Mark. He goes above and beyond to ensure his students passengers have the best possible experience, helping us to be trusted, familiar faces in the communities we serve.