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TN School Bus Driver Hall of Fame Member Norman Dailey

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Norman Dailey retired as a school bus driver in 2008, after 54 years of service. The total number of years served is amazing by today's standards when most people work for five employers before they turn 30. But it is the journey of those 54 years with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System that makes the accomplishment so special. When Dailey started in 1954, Clarksville had two school systems: One for white students and one for black students. But it didn't make any difference to Dailey who the students were. He was grateful to have a job. That perspective served him and his riders well over the coming years as the schools integrated. "I remember driving a route for the old Cumberland Heights School. It was the first day of school. I pulled up to allow a first-grader to get on the bus. She was a little white girl, and I guess she hadn't seen too many black people because when the doors of the bus opened and she headed up the steps, I could see the fright in her eyes. "She turned around to get off the bus, and her mother told her to get right back on. Well, she came up the steps, and I told her everything was going to be all right and that I wanted her to sit in the first seat across the aisle from me. ."The girl rode his bus every day from then on, and they became good friends, Dailey said. "Twelve years later, that little first grade student graduated from high school and sent me an invitation to her graduation." Giving respect and getting respect He said learned early in life that the color of a person's skin wasn't important. It was his job to get the students to school in the morning and back home in the afternoon. "I enjoyed all my years driving a school bus," he said. "Whether it was a first-grader or high school senior, I treated the students with respect, and that is what I got in return. “The first routes I drove were Round Pond School and Burt High School. Both are now closed. With first-graders those early days were exciting and scary too. With high-schoolers, it was their last year to ride the school bus and that was a different kind of excitement." Other schools and routes Dailey drove included Northwest High, Northeast High and New Providence Middle. To this day he remains a big Northwest supporter. He attends all the football games, and for years he has sat in the same seat. Everybody at Northwest knows that is "Norman Dailey's seat." Dailey is also well-known for his support of Austin Peay State University, and he can be found at athletic events there, too. He loves sports, but he especially enjoys being around the students and their families. He saw thousands of Clarksville children grow up during his 54 years of driving. Over the years, Dailey became the most requested driver for football, basketball and baseball games and track and field events, and not just at Northwest but for many other schools as well. "I loved what I did," Dailey said. "It was more than being a bus driver. I was transporting children to places where they would learn. That's important." After the last route Dailey's service was officially recognized Tuesday, June 2, as he was inducted into the School Bus Hall of Fame at an awards dinner in Nashville held by the Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation organization. "I am very proud that in all 54 of my years driving a school bus, I never received a single disciplinary write-up or had an accident," Dailey said. "I took my job seriously. After all, when I was driving that bus, I was responsible for the lives of students." His wife, Josie, passed in 2008. She also was a school bus driver and worked for the system for 20 years. Dailey suffered a stroke in 2013, but it has not slowed him down. The stroke affected his speech only. He spends days with his dog, Lulu, and working on the family farm. While Dailey can no longer enjoy being on the bus with students, he and Josie had seven children, and there are 11 grandchildren who continue to keep Dailey busy every day. Tim Parrish, Freelance writer,

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