Bus driver helps kids along the road to lifelong learning

May 15, 2021 | 12:08 am

Updated May 14, 2021 | 10:03 pm

Mike Pate

Mike Pate retired as postmaster of the city of Whitesville after a 32-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. But retirement didn’t last long.

He saw an article about preschool students not being able to attend school in person because of a shortage of bus drivers, and thought to himself, “I can do that.”

So, Pate joined the DCPS Transportation Department this March. 

“I’m still making deliveries,” he said, “but what I’m delivering now is much more important.”

That was only the first example of Pate’s commitment to not only seeing a need, but also doing something about it.

While driving students to East View Elementary School one morning, he overheard several of them talking about the school’s Book Fair, saying they would not be able to purchase books because their parents didn’t have the money.

“I thought about it for a while and decided, well, I think reading is very important,” Pate said. “It made me think about when I was a child. I come from a family of eight kids. My dad struggled to support us the whole time so I knew how these kids felt. So I talked to the school and donated some money so that anybody that hadn’t been able to go to the book fair could go get some books.”

Pate donated $1,000 – enough for more than 160 children to receive two books with a “buy one, get one free” special sale. 

EVES guidance counselor LeVon Cozart called the donation an amazing act of kindness.

“He believes in education and wanted to give kids an opportunity to get a book,” Cozart said. “I let the kids know Mr. Mike bought their books because they are important and he cares for them, but he did not do this for publicity. In fact, the day he came in to talk to me about it, I had to ask his name. He didn’t even provide it as a means of acknowledgement.” 

EVES students signed a giant “thank you” card that was presented to Pate, who hopes the children take away two lessons from the gift. 

“I’ve always heard the saying, ‘With a book, you can go anywhere,’” Pate said. “One person may not be able to do it all, but if we contribute and give what we can, it is going to make a difference.”

May 15, 2021 | 12:08 am

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