CARLSBAD — From the moment you step into Barbara Patterson’s office at the Army and Navy Academy, it’s clear that she’s not your run-of-the-mill school transportation director. After all, most don’t have a personalized varsity jacket, like she does. The walls of her office are filled with photos, drawings and tokens from former students that she fondly refers to as “her boys.” Most transportation directors also don’t have a plaque from the California Highway Patrol celebrating 40 years of bus driving accident free.
“Miss Bobbi,” as she’s affectionately called by the cadets and those who know her, stepped down from her role as director on Aug. 31 to a part-time position after 14 years of service at the Army and Navy Academy and a grand total of 40 years driving buses.
As transportation director, Patterson was responsible for a plethora of tasks, including making sure all the vehicles were running properly, making doctor’s runs with cadets and transporting the cadets to sporting events. For the students, many of whom travel far from home to attend the academy, Patterson was their mom away from home.
“I try to make it as family-oriented as possible in my department,” she said.
On days when Patterson would drive to sporting events, she would make sure to watch the boys compete. She also volunteered to help score-keep for track and basketball.
“For me, it was watching the boys grow up,” she said. “They thank me all the time for the work I’m doing.”
Before coming to the Army and Navy Academy, Barbara Patterson drove buses in Orange County. During that time, she was selected as one of the bus drivers for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where she transported athletes. She was also driving in Los Angeles right before the 1992 riots started. When she moved to Escondido, Patterson met her husband, Kenneth, who drove buses for 35 years. While she is modest about her achievements, her husband is more than happy to brag for her.
“So many people love the job she does, from the kids, the staff and the parents,” Kenneth Patterson said.
While the process to become a bus driver isn’t easy — it includes 20 hours of classroom training, behind the wheel training and a driving test — and the hours often exceed 50 a week, Barbara Patterson is happy with her decision to follow this career.
“I do it because I love the kids,” she said.