We live in the time of comic book movies, high fantasy and science fiction. In these stories, someone with incredible power is usually compelled to do the right thing by a tragedy, or some dramatic event in their lives. But while these stories are sometimes entertaining, we forget that the real heroes are the single moms, the good dads, or the kind teachers.
Real heroes are not the ones punching bad guys in our movies, they are doing what they can, every day, to make the real world a better place to live.
Reneita Smith, a single mother of two children, is one such person. When her school bus suddenly caught fire on her last route home, she was compelled to save lives. She not only made sure her 20 students made it off okay, but also went above and beyond to make sure that no child was left behind.
It was a normal route up until Reneita Smith realized something was very wrong.
In September of 2016, Smith was driving her school bus along a road in College Park, Maryland. She was taking her kids back home and was on her third stop of the last route for the evening. There were still around 20 elementary school-aged children, from 4 to 10 years of age, left on the bus when she noticed something odd.
The brake warning light for her bus flashed on after she made the stop, but the brakes seemed fine. Undeterred, she continued to drive toward her next one.
“My babies [said] ‘miss bus-driver, the bus is — we smell smoke,’” Smith said in an interview on the Ellen Show.
So, Smith decided to stop and call her dispatcher to inform them that something was wrong.
“But by the time I pick up the mic to call transportation, my bus was on fire,” Smith said.
A fire had started under the rear wheel of the bus — but Smith would go back in to make sure no one was left on board.
Smith put the now smoking bus into park and readied to evacuate her kids. Of course, by this point, her “babies,” as she called them, were quite scared.
Smith never lost her cool, though. The 20 children were lined up, and she got each one off the bus safely.
“I got my babies off the bus,” Smith said in an interview on the Ellen Show. “But because everything happened so fast … I ran back into the bus, because I had to make sure every one of my babies were accounted for.”
As she reached the last step of the bus, it exploded in flames.
“It was instant,” Smith said in an interview on the Ellen Show. “It just went up.”
Because of her swift and calm action, no one was hurt, and everyone got off the bus safely.
For Smith, it was nothing — her students were her babies, and nothing was going to stop her keeping them safe.
Neighbors had taken notice of the fire by that point and had started leading the kids to safety. All the while, they marvelled at Smith’s bravery.
“The parents were so happy, thanking me and hugging me,” Smith said.
But for Smith, it was nothing.
“It’s my job,” Smith said. “They’re my babies until I give them back to you.”
Despite her humility and dedication, Smith has been honored with praise from all over the country and many people have called her a hero. But for her son, they are all seeing what she has been all along.
“He was like, ‘my mom has always been a hero,’” Smith said on the Ellen Show.