Brenda, Take the Wheel: Bus driver retiring after 50 years on the job

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

By Karen Jarvis

Davie County Schools

300,000 miles.

That’s the estimated number of miles that Brenda Lyerly has driven a bus during her 50 years with Davie County Schools.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Brenda has sat in the driver’s seat of a big yellow school bus for 50  years, and has only served one school – Cooleemee Elementary. After this school year, she plans to hang up her keys and retire.

“I always said that when I had kids get on there and they say ‘my grandma rode your bus’, I’d quit. It happened, and I didn’t quit,” Lyerly said with a laugh.

It’s hard to leave the kids which she says are her favorite part of the day. “It’s a different bunch of kids every year. They make it fun. Sometimes they tell you everything. I could write a book.”

Driving a bus is in the family.

Her husband drives an exceptional children’s bus, and her children and a niece have all been school bus drivers, too. “It’s the perfect job. I have talked several people into coming and driving buses. They were scared to death until they got to driving. It’s just like driving a car.”

“I’ve worked with Brenda for 21 years now, and one thing I always have appreciated about her is her attention to detail,” said Jeremy Miller, Davie County Schools Transportation Director. “She knows her kids, she knows her route, and she knows her bus. If any of those were off she would always notify us to make it right. That is so important in keeping our students safe.”

Jeremy, along with Emily Moore, assistant principal at Cooleemee, describe Brenda as extremely dependable.

“She has transported countless students to and from school safely,” said Moore. “Safety on her bus is a top priority, and she strives to maintain a quiet and orderly bus ride each time she gets behind the steering wheel.”

“I’m going to miss the kids, even the ones that give me heart palpitations,” said Lyerly. “I’ll cry.”

Even among the tears, Brenda is looking forward to her free time. “I’m going to get outside, play in my flower beds and get them back to looking good. We’ll go on vacation in our camper. It won’t hit me real hard until the cold weather starts and I’m not busy outside.”

The students on her bus this year keep asking her age. They’ve made guesses, anywhere from 30 to 90.

“I told them I’d tell them on my last day as a bus driver.”

Until then, Brenda, your secret is safe with us.