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Oswego 308 Bus Driver Retires After Nearly Four Decades on the Job

"“I will miss the kids most of all. They’re what makes the day,” said Peggy Figgins, who served as a bus driver for special education students.

Peggy Figgins will be retiring after 38 years of transporting special education students for the district. | Credit: Oswego 308
Peggy Figgins will be retiring after 38 years of transporting special education students for the district. | Credit: Oswego 308
After 38 years of transporting special education students for Oswego Community Unit School District 308, Peggy Figgins is quick to point out what she will miss when she retires in a few weeks.
 
“I will miss the kids most of all. They’re what makes the day,” she said. “When you get to a home and a child comes out with a smile on their face there is nothing quite like that.”
 
Figgins’ career stretches all the way back to 1976 when the bus driver for her youngest son, who is hearing impaired, asked if she might be interested in driving a bus for the district.
 
“The route was a long one and it was being split,” she explained. “The driver asked me if I would be interested.”  
 
At the time, Figgins was a homemaker, a wife and mother of two young sons. She and her husband Dennis talked about it and the pair concluded the job would be a good way to help cover medical expenses for their hearing-impaired child. Figgins added that the additional income would help her finance her hobby, crafting.
 
“Between those two things, we decided that maybe it was time for me to find a job,” she said, noting an added bonus to accepting the job would be having the same days and summers off with the boys. “I started driving mid-year in March of 1976.”
 
When she first started driving, she had to transport less than a dozen children, between the ages of three to 11, out of Oswego, Yorkville, and Aurora, to schools in Batavia, Geveva, and St .Charles.
 
“I got very comfortable with the driving aspect fairly quickly. I wasn’t driving a full-size bus at the time, although I trained on them,” she said. “The more difficult part was learning about the different disabilities and adjusting to having different types of children on the bus at the same time.”
 
She has seen a lot of changes since she first got behind the wheel. The department was much smaller and when she first started driving, she worked alone. The district didn’t begin adding monitors until the 1980’s.
 
“If one of the children really needed a lot of assistance, you had to stop to take care of it. You didn’t have anyone else to rely on,” she said.
 
In the beginning, she would drive up to 120 miles a day. But the district has since added more buses, drivers, consolidated routes and incorporated other changes to operate more efficiently.
 
“In the district now I drive about 60 to 65 miles a day, which still seems a lot. But this is a big difference,” she said, adding that navigating the roads is a bit different from when she started driving 38 years ago. “And of course traffic wasn't near what we experience today.”
 
She also noted that the technology and equipment has gotten far better over the years.
 
“It has come a long way. For what we do now, I think it’s good,” she said.
 
A typical day for Figgins begins at 4:15 a.m., when she arises with enough time to make her 5:45 a.m. shift. She and her monitor head for their bus at 5:50 a.m. when they make a detailed inspection of the bus. They fill out paper work and head out at 6:15 a.m., for the first of three routes. Their morning shift ends at 8:30 a.m., and then it’s back to the shop for fuel up and cleaning. The afternoon shift begins at 1:45 p.m. and the workday ends at 4:45 after she drives three more routes.
 
The work can be challenging and grueling but it’s all worth it, she said.
 
“I love the people I work with as much as I love the kids,” she said. “I think our department is headed in such a positive direction right now. It’s a good time in our department.”
 
Figgins’ entire career has been spent driving for special services, which she has always found extremely fulfilling. She starts each day with a very simple goal.
 
“My goal every day is to get each child to school, happy; ready to start the day and learn something,” she said.
 
Derrick Berlin, School District 308 Director of Transportation, said Figgins is a warm and caring supporter an “outstanding role model” with an unwavering commitment, dedication and strong character.
 
“During Peggy’s impeccable 38 year career with District 308, she has logged over 700,000 accident free miles,” he said.
 
Berlin also said Figgins has a “natural gift” to work with children, noting her admired and well respected legacy is highlighted by the fact her entire career has been devoted to safely transporting generations of special needs students.
 
“Although we are very happy for Peggy to begin a life of leisure, she will truly be missed” stated Berlin. 
 
After she retires, she still plans to stop by the transportation facility to keep up with former colleagues and keep abreast of any new happenings. But she also plans to travel, work on her crafting, keep busy in the flower and vegetable gardens, and “enjoy retirement to its fullest.”
 
“It’s just the two of us, no pets to worry about and the kids have moved on with their lives so we can just scoot right out the door whenever we want to,” she said with a big smile.

Provided by Oswego 309
Oswego Gladys December 05, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Peggy you will be missed !!!
Jane Enviere December 06, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Congrats and best wishes!!! :)
mike ellison December 06, 2013 at 01:41 AM
700,000 accident free miles. Well done.
Stefanie Lombardi Garcia December 06, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Congratulations Peggy!!! You transported my son for a few years awhile back and you were a wonderful driver.

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