Bus driver helps fourth grader with report
GYPSUM – A strange series of events led ECO bus driver Steve Hodge to be a fourth-grade student’s mentor, then a speaker for the entire class at Red Hill Elementary school.”Do you know about the Sydney Opera House?” fourth-grader Celine Martinez asked Hodge, as she boarded his bus one cold December morning. Celine was assigned to report on the $79 million landmark, but was having trouble finding informationIt was a strange question, but she asked the right person. “The Opera House? I helped do some work on it,” said the Sydney native.Two weeks later, Celine was summoned to the principal’s office. There was the burly bus driver with a three-ring binder full of pictures and text about Australia and the Sydney Opera House. Hodge brought postcards, coins and miniature Australian flags for each of her classmates, too.
“She pranced around the classroom handing out the flags and the coins to each student,” Hodge said. “She was the princess of the ball. The look on her face was just precious. I didn’t expect it.”Celine’s teacher, Linda Feucht, said: “I think it’s wonderful that people in the community support the kids. I’m amazed that a bus driver would help Celine do her school work. Someone showing interest in her education is paramount.” Hodge has worked for ECO Transit for the last four years. He said he spends most of his free time traveling and catching up with friends, not doing students’ school work. But after a little persuasion from Feucht and fellow bus driver and Red Hill Elementary School employee, Nancy Spigener, Hodge agreed to discuss the Sydney Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, and the flora and fauna of Australia to the entire fourth grade. The day of the presentation, Hodge had a sore throat, and he was nervous about speaking in front of 50 fourth graders.
“Celine’s a lovely kid,” said Hodge. “And if this boosts her confidence, that’s great.”This time, Hodge arranged the pictures and text in a polished PowerPoint presentation, but the kids were far more impressed with Hodge’s thick Aussie accent. ECO Transit Director Harry Taylor said he was not surprised at Hodge’s extracurricular activities. “Steve’s name shows up in the service awards, people call to compliment him, they write his name down on comment cards,” Taylor said. “It’s another feather in his cap, but definitely a bigger feather than usual.”