Veteran school bus driver Mike Fee bid Thoreau Elementary School students farewell ahead of his retirement. Photo by Luke McCrory

School bus driver gets warm sendoff after 18 years at the wheel

June 25, 2024

By Luke McCrory — Correspondent

Cheers from proud parents, upbeat music, summer-themed decorations, and a few tears marked the end of the school year at Thoreau Elementary.

As the buses rolled away, Thoreau’s faculty stood together, waving farewell to the students for the summer. But it wasn’t only the kids fielding well wishes and goodbyes: Veteran school bus driver Mike Fee, wearing a summer hat and an ear-to-ear smile, was behind the wheel for the last time. 

Known for his indomitable enthusiasm, the Stoneham native is retiring after 18 years of driving students for the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District. 

“I ​​was never on a school bus until I came here to apply for the job almost 20 years ago,” he said. 

He has “no regrets” whatsoever about taking the job.

“I’m going to be missing a lot of these kids and their moms and dads,” he said. “Some of the best people I’ve ever met are right here in Concord.”

Bus driver bonding

Fee has been a reliable, welcome presence each morning for Thoreau parent Emily Hargesheimer. 

“Some of the best people I’ve ever met are right here in Concord,” Fee said. Photo by Luke McCrory

“My oldest daughter just graduated fifth grade, so Mike’s been with our family for six years. He’s an extremely bright light every morning,” she said. 

Virtually every student who boards Fee’s bus gets their own unique greeting or catchphrase.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to get the kids out and going, but he always puts a smile on their faces the second he opens the door for the bus,” Hargesheimer said. “He just makes it very easy to start the day.”  

Hargesheimer says her three children’s sendoff for “Mr. Mike” illustrated his place in the community. 

“They gave Mike the biggest hug when they saw him yesterday,” she said. “It’s unusual that you would see such a connection between a bus driver and kids. That’s why so many people are sad to see him go.”

She wants everyone to know one thing about the man behind the wheel: “Mike led by excellent example of how to take each day and make it the best you can.”

Thoreau Principal Justin Sparks told the The Concord Bridge that Fee’s “infectious laughter and booming voice have endeared him to everyone at our school.

“He consistently went above and beyond his duty of safely transporting students, forging a remarkable connection with each child on his route,” Sparks said.

“His humor and genuine care brightened their days, whether he was checking in on their well-being or sharing a treat from the school office. Mike made every arrival and dismissal a positive experience for our school community.”

Parting words

On his last day, Fee wanted to send his own message to his colleagues and all the families he met during his career on Concord’s roads.  

“Thank you so much for all these years, for the friendship and the support you guys have given me through everything I’ve been through. I can’t say ‘thanks’ enough,” he said. 

“It’s just impossible.”

While Fee will no longer drive for the regional district, he said he still wants to maintain a presence in the community. 

“They’ve treated me so well through all 18 years, so, in kind, I try to do the same to them.”