Letter: Thank you, Nancy Austin

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 08:38 AM

Feb. 10-14 was declared Bus Driver Appreciation Week for North Carolina public schools. This prompted me to think of the bus drivers who positively impacted my children’s lives. One woman, in particular, stood out in my mind as a positive influence for my children; that was Nancy Austin, bus driver for Lower Creek Elementary School. Miss Nancy, as she was affectionately called by the students, drove a school bus many years at Lower Creek. She lovingly cared for the students she transported and faithfully and responsibly kept her parents informed on how their children were doing on her bus. She greeted students with a smile and parents with a wave as the children got on and off her bus each morning and afternoon.

As I thought about Miss Nancy, I realized how saddened I was that she was no longer with us, and how heartbroken to know that the horror of domestic violence had gripped yet another family and left only victims in the aftermath. But that does not diminish the care Nancy Austin showed to me and my children as my family struggled in our fight with cancer. Our struggle has lasted for three years, but it became the most difficult when my son and I had to stay at Duke Medical Center for six months for a bone marrow transplant to fight his leukemia. During that time my first-grade daughter rode Miss Nancy’s bus home almost every day. At times various people were scheduled to be waiting for her when she arrived home from school on the bus. I distinctly remember one friend being particularly nervous that she would not be at the right place and time to get my daughter off the bus. I confidently told her not to worry because Miss Nancy never dropped off a child and drove away until she was sure the child was safe and in the hands of a responsible adult. In my six-month absence, that was a gift Nancy Austin gave me - the gift of knowing my child would arrive home from school safely and I did not need to give this another moment’s worry. I am so appreciative of the wonderful care and concern all the staff at Lower Creek showed our family through this struggle. But as I reflect on Bus Driver Appreciation Week, I realize what a debt of gratitude I owe Nancy Austin, and it is a debt I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank her for. Thank you, Miss Nancy, for taking such good care of our children for so many years.

Maleah Haas