MINDMEOYA – Just shy of the 19-year mark, Ed Sagle of Tehkummah has retired from driving kids with special needs to school for Carl Brown Bus Line—a job that has meant the world to him and the families he helps—and the kids of Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS) gave him a special send-off Friday.
“For 18 years and 10 months I’ve been driving buses, always as a special education bus driver for Brown Bus,” Mr. Sagle told The Expositor following a special celebration held in his honour last Friday at noon. Mr. Sagle was met in the hallway (on his way to pick up a student for his final drive) with a rousing rendition of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ by the Grade 3 class and presented with a pan of brownies and a card.
Mr. Sagle recalled that his very first assignment was driving a little boy from Tehkummah to Little Current Public School.
Mr. Sagle and his wife Shirley retired to South Baymouth where they ran a bed and breakfast, and he picked up this job for Brown’s Busing as a temporary gig, but he never left.
“I’ve driven kids from Providence Bay, Rockville, Billings—all over,” he said. “And they’ve always been small buses or vans.”
“I’m 73, so it’s time to retire,” he added, noting that he has a sawmill that he will enjoy putting to use, as well as 11 grandchildren and even a great grandchild that will require his grandfatherly attention. Mr. Sagle is also very involved with the Michael’s Bay Historical Society.
Mr. Sagle recalled one little girl he drove to Little Current who desperately wanted to go to ‘regular school’ by the time she reached high school. She put her mind to it and by the time she reached Grade 10, she was the recipient of one of this newspaper’s annual Awards Night bursaries for most improved student in her grade. Mr. Sagle said she couldn’t have been more proud. Today she is married with a family of her own.
“I’ve driven kids with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and behavioural problems, but in my van, I’ve never had any problems—I’ve never had to make a report to the principal once,” he said proudly.
CMPS principal Dave Wiwchar said it’s Mr. Sagle’s kind and gentle way that has stood him in such good stead with his clients.
“These students that he drives often don’t want to get in the bus, but he has a special knack of getting them on and off the bus,” Principal Wiwchar said. “He’s kind and patient and they all appreciate him. His grandfatherly way is so much appreciated.”
“He just has that personality that lends itself well to dealing with young people and those with special needs,” said Gary Brown of Carl Brown Bus Line. “He’s been a great asset to our little company.”
Mr. Brown told The Expositor the story of one young man who was a client of the bus service and who had Mr. Sagle as a driver. When it came time for the student to graduate from school, his family couldn’t afford a dress shirt and tie, so Mr. Sagle purchased him the things he needed to ensure he had the best graduation experience possible. “That’s the kind of guy he is,” he added.
“We will miss him very much,” Mr. Brown added.