HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) – The end of the school year may not come soon enough for some students, but before they got off the bus in Hudson, a school bus driver had a sweet surprise: maps- gifts for ice cream and letters of encouragement after a difficult school year.

Getting students to and from school is part of Bus Driver Petermann’s job in Hudson, but for Matthew Jones, that job was never part of the plan.

“I thought I would be teaching this year,” Jones said. “And then COVID hit and few places were hiring physical education teachers in the midst of a pandemic. “

WJW photo

The 2019 college graduate looking for a job decided to put his driving skills to good use in the same school district he says he taught students – but driving isn’t what got him noticed by his colleagues, his parents and his students.

It was the year-end gift cards and letters Jones gave to students on his journey that left many speechless.

“Always be true to yourself, have fun, be open to new things,” high school freshman Alyssa Sykes said as he read the letter.

Sharon Sykes and her daughter said they were surprised by the act of kindness. On Wednesday, they delivered a thank you letter to Jones.

“He also drives the younger ones, he turns his buses into roller coasters and dance parties like that. He did a great job, ”said Sharon Sykes.

“He told me to keep working harder in volleyball to be a better player because he knows I have the potential. It almost made me cry with joy because he’s so sweet, ”the student said.

Sykes said Jones remembers details of all of the student’s interests on his route and asks them how their day was when they got on the bus.

“Students are my passion, physical education is my passion, but really education is my passion,” Jones said. “I want to make my career in this.”

He hopes to teach full-time in a local district next year, but until then he shares words of wisdom with students and credits his education at Kent State University for his dedication to teaching.

“He said getting older means tougher things are going to happen, but as long as we keep pushing past them we’re going to do great things,” said Sykes.

It’s advice Jones said he learned to live with when things didn’t go as planned, so he quoted a famous line in letters to students.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” Jones said.

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