Learn more about Kelly Kidwell, our long-serving bus driver!
For nearly three decades, Kelly Kidwell has been among the first people to greet students each day on behalf of the Redmond School District. She’s watched kids climb aboard Bus Route 13 as kindergartners and gotten them to school safely all the way through their high school graduations.
Now, 28 years later, Kelly will retire at the end of this school year. She’ll leave a very big hole in the transportation department.
Matt Kutcher, who trains school bus drivers for the district, said everyone in the transportation department loves Kelly.
“She is one of the most dedicated professionals I have worked with in my 32 years in pupil transportation,” Kutcher said. “She is a school bus driver who sets the example for others to see.”
Kutcher said when he does his ridealong as a trainer, Kelly displays professionalism and maintains safe driving habits like she’s a newbie.
“As far back as we have records, Kelly has not had any accidents or moving violations with her school buses in an approximate 600,000 miles of school bus driving!” Kutcher said.
Transportation Supervisor Michelle Rainville echoed Kutcher’s sentiments. Rainville has worked with Kelly for 17 years, and said it goes beyond just her attention to safety and experience.
“We can talk about her perfect pre-trip bus inspections, safe driving, no accidents and a bus so clean you could eat off the floor. Yes, these things are important to the department, but overall it’s the kiddos that reap all of these benefits and more,” Rainville said. “Kelly’s commitment to the district and the students she transports is impeccable. Kelly truly has a heart for kids and her job.”
In her 28 years, 26 of them were on the same route — she switched it up for three years because of RELC’s schedule. “She has never wanted to switch routes, because she knows the kids on her route and has watched them grow from kindergarten to seniors,” Rainville said. “That is special and important to her. She has been blessed with transporting multiple generations, the children of former bus riders. This tie to the community is one of a kind.”
“Kelly will truly be missed by the students on her bus and the team she shares her day with,” Rainville said. “I will miss her tremendously for the beautiful person that she is and what she has meant to me over the years.”
Before she joined the Redmond School District, Kelly drove for the Mill City-Gates School District for six years. She grew up in Redmond and returned home in 1993.
Here’s a little more about Kelly, in her own words.
What is your favorite part about your years of work in Redmond?
I have had the same route, for the most part, for 26 years. The most rewarding part of my job is being able to watch kids grow up. There are many who rode my bus from kindergarten through graduation.
What was the most challenging part of this year?
The most challenging this year was, in the fall, LIPI was very limited and so we drove our routes every day and sometimes didn’t pick up any students for days at a time, never knowing when, where or if we would pick anyone up. Then we had to try to fill the remainder of our contract hours training, weeding, painting, etc.
Now we have plenty of students and are requiring assigned seats. That was a challenge at first, but now we’ve all adjusted to it and have our system down.
What’s next for you?
My husband retired four years ago, so I have decided to retire at the end of this school year. We enjoy camping, running, bicycling, kayaking, etc. I’m looking forward to waking up on a sunny Tuesday morning and just loading up and taking off somewhere on the spur of the moment!
We have two grown kids and three grandkids who I’m looking forward to spending more time with.