School bus driver encourages her riders to stay positive

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MADISON, Ala. - When Angel Woods climbs behind the wheel of the bus she drives for Madison City Schools, she expects her kids to be nice. And she has a few rules. “They're not allowed to talk negative about each other's color, their race or anything that's negative about that other student,” she told me.

Angel, who has children and grandchildren, shows her motherly side while taking care of her other kids. “I started telling them that they have to say something positive about themselves every day,” she said with a smile.

The mom of one of the Liberty Middle School students who ride her bus recently shared a video on her Facebook page. Caleb McFadden shot it on the ride home. It showed Angel telling each student something good about themselves.

“Nowadays, there's a lot of depression and like self-doubt and stuff so I think it's a pretty cool idea for her to like try to encourage everybody,” Caleb told me, “And make everybody feel better about themselves.”

When Caleb got home that day, he showed the video he’d taken on the bus to his mother. “All she had to do was take the kids home, but she took the time to pull over and just talk to the kids about self-worth and importance,” Kimberly McFadden said, “And just gave each one of them like a positive affirmation.”

Let’s face it, some kids need that today. “You don't know what their home life is like,” Kimberly said, “And that might be the only positive thing they hear all day long, so I think it’s pretty awesome.”

It all began when Angel overheard a kid say something ugly to another child. She stopped the bus. They were still on school property. “In every last one of them, there's something different and something unique and something special,” she said, “But I want them to believe in themselves like I believe in them.”

John Wilson is the school system’s transportation coordinator. “I just wasn't surprised at all as far as what she was doing and how she was addressing her children on the bus,” he said, “It just gratified my heart so much to see that.”

John is Angel’s boss. “Obviously from the video, you could see that she was putting herself in their shoes so to speak and trying to really empathize with them in situations they were going through,” he told me.

Her words of encouragement are as routine as the routes she drives daily. “Yeah, it's started to become a thing now,” Caleb told me. “Every day when you get off the bus, she makes you say something positive.”

“I like to say something positive to them so they can take it home or take it to school with them,” Angel said. The reason why is understandable. “I got bullied when I was a kid and I didn't like it,” Angel told me, “And I wish somebody would have gave me a positive message at that time.”

Angel’s taking what she learned as a child and is trying to make a difference in the lives of others. When I suggested she was probably making a lifelong impression on the kids, she smiled and said, “That's good because I love those kids on that bus.”

And we’d be willing to bet, the kids love her too.  “If I could get a positive message to each, and every one of the middle school students,” Angel said, “Be yourself and enjoy being you.” Words we can all live by daily.

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