Emily Snider took bus driver job to be with daughters

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
FAITH — As students board bus 24 each morning en route to Faith Elementary School, bus driver Emily Snider greets them with a wide smile and a warm hello.
When they pull up to the school, students trickle off the bus as Snider says “have a good day.”
“Their day begins with me,” she said. “If they have a good day on the bus, hopefully they’ll have a good day in the classroom.”
Snider has followed the same morning routine for more than 27 years, departing from the bus parking lot shortly after 7 a.m. each morning.
When she began her career, her daughters, Raina Goble and Salem Dietz, rode the bus with her every day. Now, her grandson, Faith fourth-grader Jayten Snider, tags along.
“He actually wants to ride the bus with her,” Goble said of Jayten. “They have a relationship like most children don’t have with their grandparents … it’s very special.”
Dietz said although her mother can retire in a couple of years, she struggles with the thought of not working at Faith when her granddaughters Maclaine Dietz, 3, and Taybryn Dietz, 5 weeks, begin school.
“I don’t know if she’ll ever retire,” she said. “I don’t think she’d be happy if she did.”
Dietz said she still remembers the time her mother fractured her foot several years ago.
“She could walk on it, but she couldn’t drive a bus for about 12 weeks,” she said. “She was just miserable, not because her foot was broken, but because she felt she didn’t have a purpose.”
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Although Snider said she began driving a bus when her daughters started school, she sticks around because she loves all of “her children” as she affectionately dubs them.
“Children are wonderful creatures,” she said. “They’ll come up and give me a great big hug and I’m on top of the world.”
And, Goble says, those hugs aren’t just doled out at school.
“She runs into children she knows everywhere we go,” she said. “She’s seen them at Walmart in Salisbury and all the way on the Carolina Coast where she loves to go fishing,” she said.
Dietz said during the summer when her mother comes out to watch Jayten play baseball the other kids assume she’s there to cheer for them.
“They are so excited to see her that she doesn’t tell them any different,” she said “She’s there rooting them on as well.”
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During a recent morning ride to school, fourth-grader Kelly Frye proclaimed Snider the “best bus driver ever” and the students surrounding her cheered in agreement.
“She is so sweet,” fourth-grader Deniya Robinson said. “She’s not a teacher, but she still teaches us things.”
First-grader Bryan Wagehrr said he feels a special bond with Snider.
“She’s like family,” he said.
Kathy Honeycutt, the school’s assistant principal and bus coordinator, said she witnesses Snider’s motherly nature toward students on a daily basis.
“She really cares about the children, she is absolutely wonderful with them,” she said.
And, Honeycutt said, she goes out of her way to help kids who are disadvantaged.
“I’ve seen her go find coats and socks for kids before,” she said. “She seems to gravitate toward those kids and know exactly who they are.”
Goble said her mother is a “saint,” who is constantly searching for ways to help other people out.
“She has a halo and little wings,” she said. “She has taken care of so many kids, so many people.”
Snider doesn’t just make kids smile on the bus, she’s also a ray of sunshine during lunch, serving as a child nutrition specialist in the school’s cafeteria.
“She’s such a special person,” Pearl Livengood, the school’s child nutrition manager, said. “She’s usually very happy and upbeat … she doesn’t mind coming to work and it shows.”
Snider helps prepare and serve hot meals to Faith students every day, taking the time to learn each of their names as they pass through making their selections.
“She knows them all,” Livengood said. “She even has special nicknames for some of them.”
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Goble said the only thing Snider ever really wanted to be in life was a mother, a goal that has been fulfilled in both her personal and professional life.
“She is a good mother to all her kids, whether they are biologically hers or not,” she said. “She is one in a million, they don’t make many mommas like her.”
Dietz said Snider has served as an excellent role model, battling breast cancer with grace. She has now been in remission for more than three years.
“She’s a trooper,” she said.
Although Dietz admits that cooking and driving aren’t necessarily Snider’s favorite activities, she knows why her mother shows up day after day.
“It’s for the kids,” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.