Arizona’s Heart and Sol: Amphitheater principal goes the extra mile for her students

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 11:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Every week KOLD News 13 is teaming up with Casino del Sol to honor someone who is making a difference in our community.

This week’s Heart and Sol recipient is Bethany Papajohn, a principal who is learning to drive a school bus to take her students on field trips.

“Our kids weren’t getting to go on their long day field trips that they typically do, so I thought that’s one thing I can do for our kids,” Papajohn said.

She started the training back in January because of the bus driver shortage schools are seeing across Arizona and the U.S.

“We have a huge shortage still, so it’s decreased the amount of drivers we have to do the fieldtrips and fun things during the day because they’re so tied their routes on both ends of the day,” she said.

After countless hours of studying and 20 hours behind the wheel, she’ll have her CDL license in a couple of weeks.

“There’s so much studying to do. There’s federal, state, and district regulations. I was so impressed with our bus drivers because of all the knowledge they have to know. You have to know engines, air brakes, and all sorts of things and then do that all with 50 kids on your bus,” she explained.

The training was more than she anticipated, but she says it’s all worth it for the kids. Seeing their smiles is her reward.

“Some of our kids have never been on a fieldtrip and fieldtrips in elementary school are a rite of passage,” she said.

As this week’s Heart and Sol recipient, Papajohn received a $300 gift card from Casino del Sol. She says she plans to use it on a party for the kids, because the kids are her heart and soul.

If you know someone who exemplifies Arizona’s ‘heart and sol’ you can submit a nomination here.

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