Jan Wolfe Retires After 25 Years At AW Schools

Jan Wolfe is retiring after 25 years with Anthony Wayne Local Schools, including 14 years as a transportation aide working with students with developmental or physical disabilities. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Jan Wolfe didn’t think that she was cut out to work with students who have developmental or physical disabilities. 

“But someone told me, ‘You’ll get more from them than you can give them,’” she said. “They were so right.”

Wolfe, who is retiring after 25 years with Anthony Wayne Local Schools, spent the last 14 years as a transportation aide on a bus carrying students in wheelchairs and those needing assistance.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said last week. “I love my job and I love my kids.”

A 1977 Anthony Wayne graduate, Wolfe is a lifelong resident of Whitehouse – except for an 18-month stint living in Waterville after marrying her husband, Mike. When their children, 2008 graduate Lauren and 2013 graduate Christopher, started school, she began looking for a job that would allow her to have the same hours as her kids.

“My husband was traveling a lot, and my kids were young, so I wanted to be home when they were,” she said.

It was 1998 and the district was hiring. She landed a job as a playground aide and then worked as a cafeteria aide at Whitehouse Primary, where her kids went to school. 

As a transportation aide, she helped load students on and off the bus, secure wheelchairs in place and handle any behavioral or other challenges that might develop during the morning and afternoon shifts. At lunchtime, she helped with the kindergarten bus routes.

Working as a bus aide has come with its challenges, she admitted, laughing as she recalled an incident in which two girls started vomiting all over at the same time.

“It was horrible,” she laughed. “But I figure if I can do this job, anyone can.”

As an aide, Wolfe said she’s gained a lot of patience and understanding about the lives of students and families who are experiencing developmental delays and physical limitations.

“Some of the kids don’t talk, and some of them make sounds. Others talk and interact,” she said. “I tell the kids, ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. It might take you longer, but you can do anything you set your mind to.’”

Many of the students’ parents have also shown her how to have a positive outlook on life. 

“One family in particular, the parents are always laughing and smiling. It amazes me,” she said.

With some of the parents, she’s exchanged numbers and kept in touch, such as with one of the boys who has been in the hospital.

“I love my job. It’s very bittersweet to be leaving,” said Wolfe, who plans to travel, sleep in and spend time with her 94-year-old mom.

While she won’t be working any more, Wolfe plans to stay in touch with the coworkers she’s befriended over the years. 

“They’re a great group of people. They care for the kids,” she said.

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