On May 1st, the Decorah Community School District will be honoring employees who have served five, ten, fifteen, twenty, or even more years in the district.  Among the guests will be Orabel Ehrie, a dedicated employee who has been a valued member of the transportation department for fifty years.

Ehrie started driving school bus for the district on in August of 1974. Her first route was hauling kindergarteners in a station wagon. Since then she has covered the same route with minor changes due to new enrollments. Her route covers the rural areas from Glenville to Frankville. She also shuttles the St. Benedict’s Catholic School students to and from school in the morning as well as in the evenings. She works very closely with St. Ben’s and tries to be involved in every event–from transporting them to and from mass when needed as well as field trips they request.

Some of the current district staff remember riding on Ehrie’s bus. They recall the strict rules she enforced when riding the bus–rules still in place today. She has one of the cleanest and best kept buses in the district because of these rules. She takes tremendous pride in her job and in the safety of the children she transports every day.

DHS Activities Department Manager Jacqueline Hoyme shared, “I rode her bus to go to my church for confirmation on Wednesday evenings. One day, I remember getting to the church, and she wouldn’t let us get off the bus to go to confirmation because she wanted everyone to practice an emergency evacuation drill first. We didn’t do it fast enough the first time, so she made us do it again. She was a great bus driver and knew how to keep her buses under control and her passengers well behaved!”

Shannon Quandahl, Facilitator of Instructional Technology and former St. Benedict’s 4th grade teacher, noted, “Orabel always drove my 4th grade class to all field trips during my years of teaching at St. Ben’s. She always greeted us with a smile and knew all students by name. We would often discuss the weather, farming, and family. She is one of the kindest humans I know!”

“Orabel drove me when I attended St. Ben’s,” commented 2nd grade teacher Shannon Tieskoetter.  “She would pick us up at St. Ben’s and take us to our hub to find our bus to ride home. Now she drives my kids.”

The district would not be the same without employees like Orabel Ehrie.

Orabel Ehrie

Orabel Ehrie and her bus in 1994.