Charleston bus driver delivers life lessons with handshake, smile

CHARLESTON, Ill. (WAND) — This isn't the route Calvin Jones thought he would take.

"I never, never even pictured myself as a bus driver in my life," Jones said with a laugh. "We had a little one on the way so I needed an extra job."

Jones runs through the same checklist every day to make sure every kid is delivered safely. Once he does that, he's off on his routes, dropping life lessons at each drop off.

"It gives you a personal connection...to know 'hey, I mean something to someone,'" Jones said.

His gifts aren't found in any store, but their value is priceless.

"A lot of them don't even know how to shake hands until someone shows them," he said.

Jones greets almost every student on his route with the same routine: a smile, a handshake and a little extra education.

Second grader Isaiah Santos rides Jones' route every day.

"Sometimes when we're at the bus stop he lets us play a little game and try to [answer questions] about school," Isaiah said.

"You get to impact an entire generation just by driving a school bus," Jones said.

That's why Jones embodies the Spirit of Central Illinois, providing students with life lessons and a life skill as the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round.

"A picture is worth a thousand words," Jones said. "A handshake is worth a million."

If you know someone who is making a difference in his/her community, nominate them for the Spirit of Central Illinois by sending an email to dmolen@wandtv.com or clicking here.