Jermaine Bethea hands out books to students at Curry Elementary.
A bus operator in Tempe, Arizona had a different kind of “drive” on his mind recently as he pulled up to deliver some 2,100 donated books to schools within the district.
It all started with a man named Jermaine Bethea, a former school bus driver who now works for Valley Metro, the public transportation system in the area.
According to Curry Elementary principal Kenneth White, Bethea is a man “who’s always trying to do the best for the kids and anyone who comes in contact with him.”
When he drove for the school, he knew the name of every kid on his route. If someone seemed down, he’d pop into White’s office to let him know. On one of those visits, Bethea had a boxful of books in hand — he’d organized a drive among some of his fellow drivers.
When he took the job at Valley Metro, his philanthropic spirit grew.
On May 16, Bethea had more than just boxes of books — this time he had a whole bus filled with them.
Image: Valley Metro
And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. As students at Curry Elementary wrapped up their last week of classes before summer, each of the 600 children at the school received a book to take home for vacation.
It was a way to support a love for literature and to help bolster the children’s home libraries.
But for Principal White, it was also about showing the kids that people care about them.
“It was a great chance to see how many people in our community are willing to put things together for our students to make their lives better,” says White.
“This is just another shining example of what public schools are out there doing for our kids.”
Image: Valley Metro
The kids were ecstatic when they saw the bus: exploring the vehicle, sitting in the driver’s seat, and poring over their new books. Some teachers took advantage of the beautiful weather, snagging a spot on the grass and having impromptu story time.
“It was a beautiful way to shut down the school year,” says White.