Lynn Obrochta was a familiar face to two students on her first day last month as a newly minted teacher at Veritas School.
That’s because Obrochta was the driver of the Manteca Unified bus they rode six years ago to and from- Veritas School.
Obrochta said it was her job as a MUSD bus driver for special needs students that sparked her desire to go to college and obtain her credential.
She wanted to find out more about special needs students so she could better understand her young passengers prompting her to take some courses. At one point Obrochta was intrigued enough that she decided if she was going to devote that much effort to understanding special needs students that it made sense to pursue her bachelors’ degree and ultimately a dual credential in general education/special education.
“My driving decision was to be more than just someone driving them back and forth to school,” said Obrochta, who teaches sixth through eighth grade special education at Veritas School.
Obrochta has been teaching 10 students in-person as cohorts or small groups for four hours a day as the state has allowed for at-risk students. On Monday when kindergarten through third graders as well as high school juniors and seniors start hybrid learning split between the classroom and distance learning, she will have 15 students in her class for a full school day.
Obrochta said when students grasp a lesson it makes teaching all worthwhile.
“When you see that ‘aha moment’ when they get so excited and proud of themselves (it is so rewarding,” Obrochta said. “You can see it in their demure and their self-esteem rises.”
And in the case of a non-verbal student, she said he smiles and giggles to let the world know that he is pleased to understand a new concept.
Obrochta did her student teaching at New Haven School — the same rural campus northeast of Manteca where she started her student career as a kindergartner.
“It was the craziest feeling,” Obrochta recalled. “When I was a student there the cafeteria seemed so much bigger.”
Obrochta, who attended Nile Garden School as well before graduating from Manteca High in 1999, said even as a parent going on to campus at the high school level when one of her five boys were attending that school campuses seemed a lot bigger. That perception changed after she started teaching.
Obrochta always wanted to work with children. After high school, though, she started a career as an esthetician.
During that time she came across an old family friend work drove bus for Manteca Unified like her mother Lisa Robertson did. The friend suggested that she consider driving a school bus.
“I loved it,” Obrochta said of driving a school bus.
It was a job choice that would fit perfectly — thanks to a big emphasis on time management and methodical planning — with her decision to go to college, work and juggle the nuances of raising five boys in different sports.
“In my case, I was lucky to have a lot of supportive people,” she said. “It takes a village to do everything I was able to do.”
Obrochta said her No. 1 supporter is her husband Keith who works as an operator at the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s water treatment plant.
She consider herself fortunate to drive bus for Manteca Unified as the district allowed her the flexibility through supervisors such as melody Ford and Pam Costanzo to juggle college and driving.
“If I had to be in class for an hour, they would work with me so I could do it,” she said.
Obrochta uses her experience of being able to work and secure a college degree and ultimately a job as a teacher as an example for her sons. She was able to attend Grand Canyon University of Arizona online.
To pull off all three — college education, raising a family, and work — Obrochta would plan out all meals a week in advance and do grocery shopping as well as chores on Sundays.
That was so when Monday rolled around she was able to go full-bore tackling what needed to be done. A lot of the homework was done after everyone else had gone to bed and on weekends when there weren’t sporting events.
Besides being a third generation Manteca resident, Obrochta is a third generation Manteca Unified employee. Not only was her mother a bus driver but her grandfather Don Shankey was a custodian at Shasta School while her grandmother Barbara Robertson was a longtime counselor secretary at East Union High.
“I’m having so much fun,” Obrochta said of teaching. “Every day is a new adventure. . . It is a privilege to be a part of 15 different worlds.”
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org