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Michelle Minor, a school bus driver for Gwinnett County Public Schools near Atlanta, said it’s always been in her nature to help those in need. So, when the opportunity presented itself to give students their own space while virtual learning, she didn’t think twice about donating her time.
“These kids need a positive spot to learn,” Minor told School Transportation News. She explained that many students are sitting at their kitchen tables, with little if any space dedicated to their online classes, due to the coronavirus,.
Minor started making desks for students in the community after realizing how inexpensive and easy it was to make one for her youngest son Chase Simmons, 8, for online classes in the spring. While some students who attend Gwinnett County Public Schools have returned to physical classrooms, as her two sons have, she said many are continuing to learn in a virtual format.
Once she made the first desk, she posted a flyer via social media to determine if any other families in the community would be interested. Now, it’s become her family’s project. Chase helps with painting the desks while her eldest son, Skyler Simmons, 15, helps with the assembling. Her husband Jeremy Simmons also helps with loading the benches when people come to pick them up.
Minor said she has always worked with her hands. When she lived in Oregon, she worked in the computer industry but grew tired of sitting behind a desk all day. In an effort to find an alternative, she attended classes at a trade school for women.
She soon began working for Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds houses for those in need. She became a carpenter, framer and housebuilder, she relayed. Now she builds desks in between her morning and afternoon school bus routes. She became a school bus driver two years ago after initially working for a roofing company after moving to Georgia in 2016. She said she and her sons can construct about 15 to 20 desks a week.
Minor also only charges customers for the building materials and occasional tool maintenance, such as purchasing a new saw blade, while she and her sons donate their time. If a family can’t afford to pay for the desk, others in the community can donate money through her online website, justaminorproject.com. She also recently posted the desk blueprints online, so people in other areas of the world can also pitch in.
We find that many school bus drivers all over the country are finding a way to give to their community in ways that don’t include driving a bus!