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Bus driver Deanna Fusco or “Miss D” helps local children start and end their school day with a smile. (Photo by Matthew DaCorte/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Students and parents in town may well be familiar with a school bus driver nicknamed “Miss D,” as the woman behind the name, Deanna Fusco goes above and beyond to make sure kids on her bus have an enjoyable and safe ride to and from school.
“It makes me happy when the kids aren’t afraid to get on the bus and have a safe ride,” she says. “... I try to make it enjoyable.”
Deanna makes an extra effort to talk and interact with all the kids on her bus, and lets them know she’s there for them if they have any trouble. She enjoys seeing older kids help out and mentor the younger kids—she encourages the 3rd- and 4th-graders to sit with younger kids to help them adapt and feel comfortable.
Deanna tries some fun and creative things to help kids enjoy their ride. She’ll bring in books that kids like to read and has also tried having kids do coloring on the bus and make cards. Kids have reciprocated that kindness, as Deanna says that they’ve made pictures and cards for her as well.
“I’ll call them nicknames—it makes them feel special—like ‘Captain’ or ‘Wolfie,’ they’ll know who they are,” Deanna says with a laugh.
Some of Deanna’s methods are goal-driven; if her kids are good and hit their behavior-related goals in the morning run, she’ll let them pick a radio station to listen to on the ride home.
Last school year, Deanna says some of the kids got obsessed with rainbow loom bracelets she’d made, and so she gave them out to kids who behaved on the ride. Later, she heard from several parents that she’d be driving their kids on her bus at the start of this school year, so over the summer, she made a bunch of the bracelets, which she calls her “be brave bracelets,” to hand out to kids who are scared or nervous about school or are simply having a bad day.
She tells the kids “It’ll give you special powers, and it’ll keep you happy all day.”
“It’s nice, and it makes me feel good because I know that I can have an impact on them and they know that they could come to me on a certain level,” Deanna says.
Caring for her passengers, especially for her Clintonville Elementary School students, comes naturally to her.
“I want to make sure the parents know that when their children are on my bus, in particular, they’re taken care of,” Deanna says, “I’m Italian, that’s what we do; we’re givers, we’re nurturing, and that’s where I come from and that’s what I want to give.”
Though she enjoys what she does, Deanna says there are some challenges to the job. That list includes sick kids on the bus, when she has to write someone up for bad behavior, or when a car runs through the bus’s stop sign when she’s picking kids up or letting them off.
However, her efforts have paid off, as Deanna says she gets a lot of support from parents who often tell her they want her to drive their kids, and also gets requests from kids and teachers to drive the bus for field trips.
She says it’s nice to feel wanted, and that doing what she does is her way of getting to know people and stay involved with the community. A lifelong resident of North Haven, she also looks at it as a way to give back to the community by making sure kids are happy going to and from school.
While the bus keeps her busy, Deanna and her daughter, Brianna, also participate in a neighborhood clean-up every few months where they help pick up trash and debris in their area.
Brianna is also a 6th grade cheerleader, so Deanna is a “cheer mom” for North Haven youth football. She was involved in Montowese Elementary School community when her daughter was there, and was on the yearbook staff.
“We created the yearbook every year for Montowese school, taking pictures of all the kids and putting the whole book together,” Deanna says.
When it comes to putting in the extra effort with the kids in the bus, Deanna says she doesn’t do it because she has to, but because she wants to.
“It’s my pleasure to be a part of this community and it’s my pleasure to drive these wonderful kids back and forth to school every day because it brightens my day personally,” Deanna says.
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