Curtis Henry from the Pauquachin First Nation has been involved with LAU WELNEW Tribal School for 40 years — including driving the school bus for more than 30 of those years.
He began his long career with the school in 1976 as a physical education teacher.
He said there used to be trailers at the school and in the winter he would teach PE in the classrooms or in the field by the school.
Henry later obtained his bus driver’s license while he was a teacher, so he could take the students to Pauquachin Hall on rainy days to play in the gym.
After about five or six years, Henry moved over to the maintenance department at the school, eventually becoming the bus driver.
He said that during his driving career, he tries to keep the kids smiling.
“I’m a real jokester, I like joking with kids,” he said. “I’m everybody’s grandpa.”
Henry is the first of four generations of his immediate family to attend the tribal school.
His brother Herman was in about Grade 4 when Henry began working there.
Curtis’ daughter Dorothy attended as well and now her daughter Isabell and Curtis’ other granddaughter Jada are going to school there.
Curtis attended the school from Grades 1 through 6.
“It’s an amazing feat for him to spend that much time at one job but not only that, to be a bus driver in all the different roles that he’s played for the school,” said Herman, adding his brother has an innate ability to keep the children safe.
“I think his track record as a bus driver, making sure that children get home safe to their families is just amazing to me…”
Herman said the school has been a big part of the community. He said he remembers different schools being there — from portables to another school. There have been many changes done over the years, he continued.
Curtis was also the PE teacher when his brother was young.
“That’s what I remember, he took me to track meets,” said Herman.
Curtis said he is thinking of hanging up his hat soon. He noted that driving the bus is getting tougher, as traffic seems to be getting worse and worse.
For now, however, he will keep the children smiling.