The longtime head of the transportation department for the school district is retiring when the current school year comes to a close.
When Mike Skeen began working for the Hannibal School District’s transportation department in 1991, he had never sat behind the wheel of a school bus before.
He had to learn fast, learn to maneuver, learn to drive a bus load of kids to school on a daily basis.
“I don’t know that it was nerves, I think when I first started, I had to teach myself to drive it. I just got in old bus No. 21 and took it down Highway 79 and across Route N and back to Route T — bit of an eye-opener,” Skeen said. “Pretty quick to realize there’s a lot involved.”
But eventually Skeen became an expert and driving a bus wasn’t as hard as it first seemed. Now, 21 years later, the longtime head of the transportation department for the school district is retiring when the current school year comes to a close.
“It’s been a good job, it’s turned into a great job and into a great career,” he said. “It’s allowed me to grow professionally quite a bit, things have changed a lot over the years, but I think everyone comes to a point in time when you say it’s time.”
From different types of weather to deal with to the sons and daughters of students who were once his passengers, Skeen has a lot of memories over the past two decades.
“We’ve had lots of experiences, lots of challenging days with weather. If there’s anything that I appreciate out of that is the cooperation of our staff and how the staff pulls together,” he said. “It’s always interesting to run into people a few years down the road after you’ve seen them on the bus, it’s always a positive situation. You see young people you knew as elementary, middle school kid, high school kid and you see how they grow up and mature, and you get a chance to find out what they’re doing. It’s been a rewarding part of the job. They’re having families now, kind of makes you feel old when you say, ‘Well, I remember when your dad was on the bus.’ Been here long enough to start seeing that.”
And even though he’s retiring, Skeen will be keeping busy.
“I have a lot of projects around the house to catch up on, do some duck hunting in the fall, fishing this summer — I hope,” he said. “I’m going to sell transportation software for a company here in the state, bus transportation software. I’ll work out of my home. I think I’ll be busy, initially for a while.”