The former First Daughter is now a mom of two who’s spreading the word about school bus safety.
Jenna Bush Hager may be best known as a correspondent on the Today show and former First Daughter, but she is also mom to Mila, 2, and newborn Poppy, 2 months. As a former teacher, Hager is passionate about creating healthy and safe learning environments for our children—and that starts with their ride to class. Last month, Hager launched a campaign with the Propane Education & Research Council to switch from diesel fuel to propane in our buses. Parents caught up with Hager about her support of the cause, school bus safety every parent should know, and what it’s like to have another girl in the family.
P: When did you first become aware that there is an alternative to diesel fuel for school buses?
JBH: It was once I started doing the research. I realized that we could have this option, which to me is a no-brainer as a teacher and as a mom. It’s safer for our kids, better for our environment, and saves money, and as a teacher we know that’s important because the budgets are spread so thin these days. Any way we can possibly spend more money on education and less on transportation is key.
The health and safety of children is so important to me and always has been, but I will say that becoming a parent puts things into perspective in a way I never even knew existed. Having kids has made it even more important to make sure we prioritize health and safety for children.
P: What can parents do to spread the word in their community? Is the message out there?
JBH: The message is not out there. We can talk to our school districts. Sometimes you think ‘Is anybody listening?’ but they are. If you look at places like Boston and Omaha public schools, it’s parents that have spoken with the leaders of their school districts and have advocated for this change. We did a little video online, which speaks to how parents can advocate for changing these buses to propane in their community.
P: Aside from this push for propane, how can we ensure our kids are generally safe on buses?
JBH: I think the main thing about why propane buses are better is because they’re quieter. We want kids to have a calm morning before they get to school. Sit on the seat, not on their backpacks or on their knees. No standing up. Watch out when they’re getting on to the bus; make sure the bus is pulled over and has stopped and that they’re not walking into traffic. Make sure you talk to your kid about looking both ways when they’re getting off the bus and crossing.
I know that all seems like obvious information, but with some states and cities offering pre-K for all—which is great—these kids are little. As a parenting tip, in general—and what I’m trying to do with my 2-and-a-half-year-old—is to talk about what we’re going to do. Talk about the day. She just started preschool and for the month leading up to starting school, we talked about what it was gonna be like to walk into the classroom and who her teachers were. Talking about routines provides a safety net where they feel comfortable to be their best selves.