On First Day of School, Chancellor Carranza Hops a School-Bus with Kids

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza join students, families, and teachers for the first day of the 2018-19 school year at PS 377 in Ozone Park, Queens. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office


Chancellor Carranza briefly exchanged his chauffeured SUV for a standard yellow school bus Wednesday morning and accompanied a pair of Queens tots on their inaugural 15-minute trip to PS 377.

Climbing aboard at 7:30 a.m. on 159th Avenue in Howard Beach, Carranza sought to soothe any first day jitters for first graders Miabella Salas, 6, of Ozone Park, and Salvatore McGrane, 5, of Howard Beach.

Wearing a Moana backpack, the soft-spoken but smiling Salas said her first priority was to reconvene with some long lost pals she hadn’t seen in many months.

“I want to play with my friends,” she shyly told Carranza. “And be nice to them.”

Carranza backed that approach and applauded her goal of improving her math skills this coming year.

“Her advice is to be nice to kids today, she agrees that she should have lunch, she’s going to help her friends and she has a backpack full of school supplies,” Carranza observed. “She’s prepared and ready to go.”

Carranza then switched bus seats to converse with Salvatore – who agreed to be addressed as “Sal” for the trip’s duration.

There were some initial lulls in the exchange as Carranza had to compete for his attention with train tracks, bodies of water, and a severed car mirror on the side of the road.

“Sal is so over me,” Carranza joked at one point.

But they regained momentum as Sal outlined his career plans – he hopes to become a train conductor – and stressed his love of taking the bus each morning.

“This is my school!” Sal exclaimed as the bus pulled up to PS 377 and a crowd of joyous parents and staffers.

Having safely delivered his high profile passengers, relieved-looking bus driver Luis Torrero said he appreciated Carranza’s gesture.

“That was pretty cool,” he said. “This is my career, this is my life, being a bus driver. So it’s definitely a good way to start the year.”

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