Jerry Martin’s official title is bus driver. But the kids who ride with Martin every day in Copperas Cove, Texas, consider him a surrogate parent.
“He takes care of the children like they are his,” Linda Heckler-Gibson told TODAY Parents.
Now, after 18 years on the job, Martin is getting the recognition he deserves. The Copperas Cove Independent School District shared a photo of Martin mowing overgrown grass at one of his stops, and it went viral.
The comment section is overflowing with praise for Martin. Many have shared stories about Martin's small acts of kindness that left a lasting impression.
“Mr. Martin is a genuinely great person. He drove my son’s bus in kindergarten and Gage thought he hung the moon,” wrote one person. Added another, “He’s such a great guy and definitely made a positive impact on my life at such a young age.”
Though Martin is enjoying Facebook fame, he says he was just doing his job.
“The weeds in the yard were about knee-high to me, so you know, it was taller for children,” Martin told TODAY. “Once the children get on my bus, I consider them my children. No one wants their kids to be covered in cockleburs.”
Martin, who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, also helps with school work practicing math problems and spelling words each morning. He said other drivers ask for his route when he’s on vacation because the students are so well-mannered.
“I tell the kids that if they are good, I will reward them when I get back,” Martin revealed. “Of course, they are always so good, so I give them each a piece of fruit when they are getting off the bus.”
Autumn Lewis appreciates everything Martin does for her 6-year-old daughter, Aliyah.
"He was due to retire last year, but didn't," she told TODAY Parents. "I'm sure the love he has for the kids is the reason."