Optimist President Jessica Parker (left) presents November's award to Jasmine Reichley, and her Bus Driver, Kelly Slattman. (photo submitted)
Optimist President Jessica Parker (left) presents November's award to Jasmine Reichley, and her Bus Driver, Kelly Slattman. (photo submitted)

PUTNAM COUNTY — “If there is a gold star award, it should go to Jasmine Reichley,” wrote bus driver Kelly Slattman in a text message to the student’s principal. Once Jasmine’s recent actions are understood, it’s easy to see why.

Sometimes, as students rise to the top of middle school during their eigth grade year, they lose sight of those younger students around them, and focus on making the transition to high school. However, their leadership is still needed. Staff members such as Slattman value the examples eighth grade students can make, and encourage them to act as good role models for the younger elementary school students. Recently, Jasmine Reichley demonstrated exactly these admirable attributes and leadership skills.

Jasmine saw a preschool student struggling. This student was having difficulty making the transition to school for the first time. The preschooler would cry every day on the bus. She would also cry when dropped off at school by a family member. As efforts were made to try to ease the transition, none seemed to work.

One morning, as the preschooler was again very upset about having to go to school on the bus, Jasmine went to sit with her. She began talking to her, trying to calm her down. First, Jasmine introduced herself, and the preschooler did the same, telling Jasmine her name.

Then, Jasmine explained why school is important, and some of the fun activities that she would get to do at school. This strategy worked! Jasmine’s compassion for a younger student, initiative to try and improve a difficult situation, and enthusiasm for school created a positive, lasting outcome for this preschooler.

Now, the young student gets on the bus without crying. Sometimes Jasmine still sits with her, and sometimes they just peek at each other down the aisle.