Every Monday through Friday of the school year, Margaret Henley Tomlinson is in the driver’s seat of school bus number 30. She’s been there for almost 36 years and it’s where she wants to stay. Her day starts at 4.30 a.m. She rises and fixes coffee and breakfast; her husband is up and gone by 5 a.m. to his job on the Natchez Trace Parkway and she allows herself a 30-minute “lie down” before she starts her bus route. Her first pickup is at 6:44 on Highway 15; she’s at East Webster High School at 7:15 and at East Webster Elementary School at 7:40. Then at 9:30 she’s driving to the Career and Technical Center. Margaret’s grandmother wanted to name her Sally, and when she started grade school in Eupora she was called “Sally.” She moved to Mathiston after two years and was called Margaret through her remaining school years. But when she went to work with Webster County Schools she became Sally again. Miss Sally is mom to four of her own children plus all of the children who have ridden her school bus. Her love for them shines through her face as she talks about them. “I started the job to supplement our income, but I just love doing it now,” she explains. “My kids rode the bus with me and now I drive several children of students who rode my bus and even one child whose father and grandfather both rode my bus.” Webster County School District Transportation Director Michael Adkins says that Miss Sally is the gold standard of bus drivers. “She is always on time, smiling and willing to do whatever is asked. She is dependable and caring; those are top qualities for the employees we want,” he adds. Her devotion extended to going through treatment for lymphoma in 2002 and still driving her bus. She had eight rounds of chemotherapy in Tupelo and would return to run her bus route each day after treatment. “We love Miss Sally,” says J.J. Johnson who had bus duty on a chilly September morning. At exactly 7:40 a.m. Bus No. 30 pulled up to EWES. “She makes the kids behave and do right. And the kids love her for it,” Mrs. Johnson said. Many of the children hug the tall, slender Miss Sally before they get off the bus. Then she makes a walk through to make sure that no one has nodded off and missed the stop, and she’s off to the high school. She drives students to the Career and Technical Center twice a day, catching a nap between shifts and then begins the reverse process of delivering children home. “My kids ride her bus and they love her to death,” said Roxcee Coble. “She keeps them entertained and always has a smile on her face.” Webster County Schools run 30 bus routes each school day, serving approximately 1,500 students. The district has extra buses for trips and special events, and all of the coaches, building administrators and band directors are certified bus drivers. That certification requires a commercial driver’s license. Adkins also serves as director of the CTC for the school district and takes both jobs seriously. “It’s never off your mind, when children are being transported,” he explained. “That sense of responsibility weighs on you and it’s a relief when all routes are completed. We ask the community to help us. When you see a school bus, you know that it is going to stop. Be prepared for that. We do our best to pick students up on the door side of the bus, but sometimes it is necessary for children to cross the road. Please be ready,” he asks. Getting students to and from school safely is important, and Miss Sally does it with a smile and a lot of love.