Teigs receive IPTA bus driving longevity awards

Todd ThorsonStaff Writertthorson@storycityherald.com

Paul and Judy Teig of rural Roland have been driving Roland-Story school buses for a combined 85 years - Paul for 44 and Judy for 41. Recently, they were recognized by the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association, receiving the organization’s Longevity Service Awards.

The Teig’s role in public transportation began shortly after they were married. Paul began driving in 1972 because Roland-Story was looking for a route driver.

“He could make it work with his farming operation,” said wife Judy. “Both his dad and I told him not to do it. We were sure it would interfere with farming schedules. Naturally, he didn’t listen, and he loves driving.”

Judy began driving three years later in 1975, when former Athletic Director Dallas Kray recommended she get her bus driver’s license so she’d be able to drive her freshmen and J.V. teams to their ball games. Not only did Judy drive a bus, but she was also a teacher and coach.

“I didn’t question that (request), so I got my bus driving license,” she said.

Soon after, with infant son Aaron in tow, Judy was asked by Dale Henricks if she’d do the kindergarten route as well. “I told him that would probably not work real well, but he assured me I could just put his car seat in the station wagon and take him along,” explained Judy. “The kindergartners took turns holding his bottle for him if he cried. They always knew whose turn it was for that privilege. Eventually, the kindergarten route meant driving a bus, not just a car.”

Through all the years, Paul and Judy have dedicated their lives to safely transporting the district’s students, supporting them in their endeavors, whether it be sports, music, speech or just getting them home safely after school or practice. They’ve driven through storms, ice, mud, taken detours, wrong turns, had some close calls and the occasional bus problem. But it always comes back to the kids.

“The best part, and sometimes the worst part, can be the kids,” stated Judy. “Over the years there have been stories of discipline, laughter, sharing, (along) with some very special riders. Their parents (too) are great to communicate so we can prevent situations before they become problems.”

Judy remembers an incident during her first year teaching, coaching and driving a bus. A minor accident unfolded when she was backing out of a parking spot. Relying on her students in the back of the bus, she suddenly felt a “thud” and they told her to stop.

“Perry Uhl, then the superintendent, just said, ‘That’s why we have insurance’,” she said.

Paul and Judy have also been active in their community over the years. Judy still fills in as a substitute teacher and their farming operation continues. They have been active in Kiwanis, their church, Lions Club, the local nursing home and other groups and organizations in need. And they continue to support Roland-Story events and the students’ activities.

“When they drive for a game or a band event you won’t find them sitting in the bus waiting for the students to come back,” said R-S Transportation Director Jeff Wellik. “You’ll find them in the audience cheering, encouraging and happily engaging themselves in the activities that the students are traveling for.”

Current Superintendent Matt Patton also praises the Teig’s dedication and service: “Congratulations on this special honor! We greatly appreciate Paul and Judy for safely transporting Roland-Story students for so many years. We hope that they continue in this important role for many years to come.”

“In this day and age when it is more difficult to find bus drivers, there is a lot of negative attention on drivers and the CDL rules are getting increasingly more stringent,” said Wellik in his nomination of the Teigs to the IPTA. “These times make this couple an even more rare find. They are a huge blessing to our district and our community. Teachers and coaches are always requesting this couple to drive. Their smiles make the kids smile and they always encourage the students to do their best. Their character shines both in the bus and the community. They are humble, caring, kind, honest, loyal, respectful, generous, a pleasure to be around and overall team players.”

The mission of the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association is to serve as a resource for school administrators, supervisors, mechanics, drivers and the Iowa Department of Education in the upgrading of Iowa’s pupil transportation program. The 53rd Annual IPTA Conference and Trade Show was held at the Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines July 18-20.

“We’ve enjoyed many performances, ball games and informative or fun field trips with amazing kids that make us proud,” concluded Judy. “The teachers are always cooperative and sometimes flexible with parking arrangements or busing schedules. It has been a privilege for us to be able to serve the Roland-Story School District and everyone that involves.”

Paul also wanted to specifically thank Jeff Wellik for nominating them. He also said there were too many great stories to think about to pick any one in particular. A wonderful “problem” to have after 44 years of driving for Roland-Story. Congratulations Judy and Paul!