They share nearly 50 years of driving experience between them
Bus drivers Joann Bonow, Therese Janus, Marcia Myers, Joe Brown, Karen Ruttenberg and Rose Wright have each driven for Lincoln-Way Community School District 210 for over a decade.
Bonow and Janus total nearly 50 years of driving between the two of them. They shared their memories in a news release from the school district.
Bonow began driving in 1990 and retired at the end of the school year with 28 years of experience. During her time with District 210, she's driven multiple state champion teams to and from their competitions, and is perhaps best known by students for the spirited décor that covers her bus.
Bonow consistently updated bus signage, props and her own ensemble to encourage her riders in their individual activities and sports. On special milestones, she brought treats like freeze pops and sandwiches for the students.
“She decorates for every holiday, for every season, spirit day and for every team,” Janus said of Bonow. “One time she picked up German exchange students from O’Hare Airport and had the signs written in German. She goes above and beyond.”
Bonow said her best memories are of the kids she’s driven along the way.
“I’ve been really lucky; I got to take girls soccer down to state. I’ve taken the mathletes to state. Just seeing the kids mature throughout the years is the best part,” she said.
Bonow’s fondness of the students is a mutual feeling. Students think highly of her, too.
“When she drove soccer down to state, it was Mother’s Day and all the girls gave her flowers,” Janus said.
Bonow also received a charm bracelet from boys soccer; each year, the team would bring her a new charm to add to the bracelet. On one of her wedding anniversaries, she drove the wrestling team to their meet. When she picked up the players, they presented her with an anniversary card signed by each athlete.
Like Bonow, Janus retired at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 school year with 19 years of driving experience. In her bus, she kept a countdown until the end of the school year, as well as photos of her children and grandchildren.
For nearly two decades, Janus has not only watched Lincoln-Way students grow up, but has also watched the growing of the Lincoln-Way area itself.
"The landscape’s changed a lot—very much so. The roads, the houses, commercial buildings: Everything’s grown up around us,” she said.
Janus spoke highly of students she’s driven.
“The coaches and sponsors and kids are great. In 19 years, I can count my bad experiences on one hand. That says a lot about the faculty and staff here,” Janus said.
She also liked to joke with the kids.
“They tell me that they’ll miss me a lot, that I’m the best, and that they love me," Janus said.