Rachel Haynes first began driving for Hemet Unified School District in 1990. On Feb. 23 of this year she retired. “I loved driving our local kids,” she said. “Of course I won’t miss getting up at 3 a.m.” Depending on schedules, there were days that began for Haynes at 3 a.m. and did not end with a final drive drop off until 7 p.m.
During her years driving for the district, Haynes drove the high school run to Hemet High, an Anza after school run and she also drove students from the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation. But for the majority of her school bus driving years, Haynes picked up Hill students and took them to Idyllwild School - elementary, special education and middle school students.
Asked if it was easier with younger or older students on the bus, Haynes said her first charges were high school students and they intimidated her. She recounted, “I was so young and they [the high school students] would throw pennies at me, and they hurt. So one day I pulled the bus over and turned around and told them, ‘If you can’t throw dollar bills at me, don’t throw anything at all.’ From that point on they never threw another thing, and I had no more problems.” Haynes made the round trip from Idyllwild to Hemet High for 10 years.
Asked what some of her biggest challenges were, she remembered having to put 75 pound chains on the bus during snow. “I’m so glad it didn’t snow much during these last two years. The chains were heavy, but I put them on.”
Haynes recalled that driving for 30 years brought with it a lot of memories about students, many of whom now have children of their own. “There are even teachers now at Idyllwild School that I used to drive,” she said.
Haynes took a brief break from driving from 1990 to 1994 to open a beauty shop in Valle Vista, but in 1995 she resumed driving for HUSD. Beginning in 1996 she took over the Idyllwild School route.
Asked what she will do now that she is retired, Haynes laughed. “I have five daughters, 12 grandkids and 2 great-grandchildren,” she said. “I’ll be doing a lot of babysitting.” Haynes said she will also be travelling. “I went to Europe in March,” she said. “I went with a group, and we rented an RV and toured through England, Scotland and Wales. I drove. I’ll be going to Italy in two years.”
About retirement, Haynes said it is bittersweet. “We had an end of year staff party. I’ll miss my boss at transportation, Mike Fogerty, and the staff at Idyllwild School, especially Matt [Kraemer] and Emily [Shaw, former Idyllwild School principal]. They’ve all been awesome. And of course I’ll miss the students.”