Bus driver rolls into retirement after 4 decades

Flowers and certificate in hand, Maria Mageli recently retired from Oxford Community Schools. Photo provided

By Don Rush

What started out in 1986 as a short-time gig for one Oxford Township resident, finally came to an end two weeks ago with the last day of school in Oxford.

It was supposed to be temporary,” Maria Mageli, 63 said, laughing between words. “I wanted a new motorcycle and a new garage.”

Life changed and 36 years later, Oxford Community Schools accepted Mageli’s retirement from bus driving. For Mageli it was a wonderful drive.

I’ve had the same route for about 25 years. I’ve had kids of kids on my bus. I’ve had a lot of nice kids on my bus and a lot of nice parents on my route,” she said, adding, “I think most people in Oxford are still good.”

For most of her career Mageli’s route was on the southwest side of Oxford Township. “Baldwin Road and the rural roads out that way.”

A lot has changed over the years, for one, her two sons Kyle and Coby Etherton finished their schooling. And, of course the buses have changed.

When I started out, the buses were all stick shifts. You had to open the door manually by pulling a lever. Now they’re automatics and to open the door you push a button. We went from gas engines to diesels and then back to gas, thank goodness. Those diesel buses were loud and stinky!”

Buses, too these days are equipped with systems to make sure when they are parked for the night there are not kids still on the bus.

Back in the day, we also just had the red flashing lights. Now we have the yellow lights to let folks know we are going be stopping, the red flashing lights and are now allowed to use our hazard lights. Which allows us to – if we can – pull off the road and as long as no student is crossing the road, we can let traffic keep going,” she said.

Mageli is proud of the district’s transportation department and the fact drivers in Oxford continue their education every two years.

Now that she is retired she’s looking forward to “catching up” around the house, yard and her and husband Norris’ social life, as well as taking care of their canine pals, Luna a Golden Retriever and Wayne a feisty Jack Russel Terrier

A lot of people might not know, even though we might only work six to eight hours a day, those hours are spread out over 11 hours a day. That doesn’t leave much time to have to yourself,” she said.

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