Former student and bus driver reconnect over cherished memories

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LAYTON, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s been 21 years since Joe Stephenson-Simmons last rode his elementary school bus. Recently, he was able to reconnect with his bus driver whom he looked up to.

Joe’s childhood dream was to become a bus driver. He says he remembers his elementary school bus driver Sandy Wilson being his hero.

“She was there every morning and every afternoon,” Joe says. “And I have more memories with her than I do with some of my elementary school teachers…she was always such a great influence.”

While Joe’s career path didn’t lead him to become a bus driver, he says when he learned that bus manufacturer Blue Bird had made motor homes with Wanderlodge for a time, he says he found someone who was selling one.

“This is my bus, Wilson the Wanderlodge. A 1987 Blue Bird,” Joe says.

Reconnecting, Joe and Sandy met at the Davis School District bus yard to show one another their buses and to catch up.

“All through elementary school, Sandy was my bus driver and was so patient with all of my pestering questions about driving the bus,” Joe says.

Joe says Wanderlodge buses are known to be given names that are placed above the buses windshied. He says “it was a no-brainer” when it came time to name it.

When Sandy found out about Joe’s bus and the meaning behind its name, she says it was exciting.

“I have a namesake. Not very many people can say they have a bus – a Blue Bird bus – named after them,” Sandy says.

At the time Joe and Sandy first met up, Sandy brought with her a small tote bag with tiny handprints and the words, “We love our bus driver.”

This tote was given to Sandy by Joe and his sister in 1993.

“They gave me this bag that they made one Christmas and I was just so excited to get it because it was so cute,” Sandy says.

After all these years, Sandy says she’s cherished the homemade gift.

On Wednesday, Joe and Sandy took one last bus ride together in Sandy’s school bus. While it isn’t Joe’s childhood ride, they say it’s special memory.

Sandy has been driving a school bus for Davis School District for 31 years. She is planning to retire this year.

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