In the driver’s seat 

Meet Burlington County 2022 ESP of the Year Marijean Andl 

Marijean Andl is the perfect illustration of the phrase, “small but mighty.” As a school bus driver and the president of the Lenape District Support Staff Association, she carries weighty responsibilities with a smile and is clearly the person people turn to when they find themselves in need.  

Andl began her career as a bus driver in Philadelphia. A neighbor asked her to take the driving test with her, something that tickled both of them since Andl is quite petite—4 feet, 11 inches, she’ll tell you—but Andl passed the test and her neighbor didn’t.  

At the time, Andl was caring for her baby niece, whom she had taken in. She wanted a job that would fit her schedule and that would provide much-needed health benefits. She got the benefits, but soon found that driving a bus for the busy school district would be very time-consuming.  

“I’ve been with the Lenape District for 20 years,” Andl said. “I love my job. I love the students. I love watching them grow throughout the year, although it can be grueling. There are ups and downs. I drive kids to and from school, I do sports, field trips, weekend trips, and we take kids to and from work programs, and special education bus runs.” 

Andl draws on many skills as a bus driver, some of which the mother of four children clearly honed at home.   

“It takes patience to be a successful school bus driver,” Andl said. “This is my calling. It takes understanding and a certain kind of stare. You look at them and let them know, ‘OK, this is enough.’ You need to understand that every kid is different. Kids don’t realize that I can hear and see all of it; everything that’s going on. I get to learn about them without them actually telling me. I try to think about how to handle any issues knowing what they’ve got going on.”  

Andl points out that bus drivers see students where they live, and teachers rarely, get that perspective.  

“I know if their parents are home when they get off the bus,” Andl said. “They’re high school students, but I often feel that kids need you the most during those years. I see if they have a dog or a cat greeting them at the door. I know what kind of house they live in; if they’re poor or well-off. You can pull up to the richest house but you see no one is home. Seeing this side of our students’ lives gives me an understanding of where they’re coming from.” 

Andl brings that same understanding and compassion to her role as the association president. She represents 107 members and works hard to ensure good communication across different job sites and schedules. The association is heavily involved in community outreach and has supported Operation Yellow Ribbon, a program that “stuffs the bus” for military personnel. This activity that is even more meaningful as she prepares for her son to join the Marines.  

In addition, they support numerous Pride projects to build connection with the community. They collect flowers to donate to the elderly in nursing homes on Valentine’s Day, and much more.  

 Andl is honored to have been named the 2022 Burlington County ESP of the Year.   

“I’d rather not be in the limelight, but I was very happy that people thought I was deserving,” Andl said. “I don’t look at myself like that. I’m here to help people and move on. I felt a little shy about it. I’m my own worst critic. But I felt humbled and happy they felt that way about me. And appreciated.”