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School bus driver was inspired by students to earn a degree, pursue dream of teaching

School bus driver inspired by students to earn degree during COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 10:58 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 14:02:12-04

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – A school bus driver in Massachusetts says he was inspired by the students he drove to earn his college degree and pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.

After high school, Clayton Ward attended college in Virginia, but the demands of school and work took their toll on him and he left after a few semesters.

Eventually, he started driving a school bus for the City of Framingham and talking to the students on his route every day renewed his sense of passion for expanding and teaching young minds.

So, he enrolled at MassBay Community College in 2019 with the goal of earning his degree, transferring to a four-year institution, and someday teaching high school history.

MassBay says Ward worked full-time driving the bus, while also attending classes full-time at the community college. He excelled and earned a spot on the dean’s list every semester. He also did all of this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It wasn’t always easy," said Ward. "I would drive my route in the morning and afternoon, take a class in between shifts, and take night classes and classes online to complete my degree requirements. I would think of those students and all the years I wanted to make this happen, and it helped me focus my energy.”

In just one year, Ward completed his associate in arts degree in liberal arts and he plans to transfer to Framingham State University in the fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in secondary education.

“I really enjoy working with kids, especially the high school students, and during the bus routes, we would chat about their classes,” said Ward. “As a history buff, I would share lessons that I learned in school and we talked a lot about academics. After several of these discussions, some of the students would tell me they wanted me to be their teacher. I think they only said that because I was a different person than their regular teachers, educating them in a different way to pique their interest. But, however small that mention was from those kids… it stuck with me and gave me the motivation to complete a goal I had started years ago.”