A school bus driver for the Vineland Public School System has been taking students to and from school for more than half a century.
Dean Charlson has been driving a school bus in Vineland for 52 – racking up over 375,000. That distance is almost equivalent to driving a school bus around the perimeter of the United States 50 times.
Charlson told NBC40, "I get used to the kids. They come over when you see them in a restaurant, they come over and hug you or talk to you, that's when you feel it...when you enjoy it."
On October 2nd, 76-year-old Deane Charlson will be honored by his co-workers in the Vineland School District for safely, and honorably, busing his students for 52 years – with 50 of those years served as a full-time employee.
"It’s called priceless - an employee like that is priceless." Joseph Callavini has supervised Deane for the past 25 years and says at one point, Deane was even his bus driver in Vineland. Callavini said, "Nothing but respect - I had respect for him back then and I have even more respect for him today."
Deane began driving in 1961 and says throughout his long career, he has driven 3 generations of kids to school and that grandparents of his current students will often remember him as their driver. Charlson said, "I get along with them very good. I respect them - they respect me. That's what my theory was."
Deane currently drives students that attend the New Jersey Youth Corps in Vineland and his students say they are lucky to have him.
Joe Dattalo, a student at New Jersey Youth Corps in Vineland, explained, "Other drivers, they just seem a little cut off. They're just there to do their job. He would go the extra mile for the kids." Another student, Jose Vega, said, "One of the other days when I had missed the van, because I was making an important phone call, he came back from dropping everyone else off just to take me back to my work site." Kristen Stoehr, a student at NJYC, said, "He's easy to talk to - I’ve never really talked to any of my bus drivers, because they never really cared about talking to us, but he does."
Deane's supervisor says when his senior driver does decide to retire in the next few years; it will be impossible to find a replacement they can count on, like Deane.
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