Perhaps last Sunday you saw the CBS Sunday Morning feature on Curtis Jenkins, a bus driver for Lake Highlands Elementary School in Dallas, TX.
Curtis Jenkins (Source: www.cbsnews.com)
At first blush, one might be tempted to see his job as relatively unimportant. But Curtis sees it otherwise – he has made himself a mentor/encourager/dream builder for each child in his care and in doing so, is helping to transform their lives – now and for the future.
How? Curtis starts by giving each child a job at the beginning of the school year – jobs like a police officer, president or administrative assistant to the president. Along with the title comes a specific responsibility – for some that responsibility is to greet the other children; for others, to help the younger ones onto the bus; for all of them, to create an environment on the bus of love, care, and compassion. Once the bus is full, Curtis grabs the microphone and reminds everyone that they are to treat one another all day with great respect and kindness.
Curtis also gives gifts to the children throughout the year – each gift is chosen especially for that child. Perhaps a backpack or a bike or a t-shirt with a picture on it that was made by that student. All out of his own funds.
Some of the gifts Curtis Jenkins gave students at Christmas. (Source: www.cbsnews.com)
Finally, Curtis encourages the students to dream big – to see their lives as having wonderful possibilities to grow, develop and use their gifts and talents to serve the world. He asks them what they want to become when they grow and reminds them daily to pursue those dreams.
When some of the children were interviewed about Curtis, they shared how much he means to them – not for the gifts he gives – but for the love and encouragement he shares.
And what does Curtis himself get out of this bus utopia that he creates every day? Simple – the joy that comes from pouring oneself into others and seeing them light up with life, with joy, with greater confidence in themselves. Wow, what a paycheck!
Curtis has taken what for some might be a menial job and transformed it into a builder of young lives. In doing so, he is changing the world for the better. How can we transform our jobs and responsibilities into daily occasions of loving, encouraging and building up of others? In doing so, we, like Curtis, will find ourselves building our own great life – a life of purpose, passion, and joy.