A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Larry Dzrojkoski

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Larry Dzrojkoski

For seven years, 73-year-old Larry Dzrojkoski has been driving buses for Portage schools. After retiring, Dzrojkoski decided that he wanted to get another job, one that was more flexible. Dzrojkoski figured that bus driving would give him the flexibility and the income that he wanted. 

“Bus driving was one of my go-to jobs when I retired. I like kids, but I didn’t want to work a full-time job. I enjoy driving a school bus because you only work five days a week. You get the weekends off, holidays off, and the summer off. It’s the best retirement job available. I don’t want to just sit around; I have to keep busy,” Dzrojkoski said. 

One thing that makes Dzrojkoski stand out among others is the fact that he teaches his students proper manners. He emphasizes most that girls enter before boys, always. 

“I start teaching manners when I do my middle school route. When it gets cold, the girls are colder than the boys, so boys let the girls get on the bus first; it’s proper manners. I’ve implemented this on several buses that I’ve driven,” Dzrojkoski said.

Dzrojkoski believes that kids have to start somewhere, and letting girls get on the bus first is a great place. It’s a simple task that students can do, so he expects them to do it. Dzrojkoski hopes that the manners that he implements on his bus will stick with the students in the general public and that they’ll show their manners all of the time. 

“There is someplace that you have to start. The boys letting the girls get on the bus first is a simple thing, and I can supervise it. Most of the time, the kids do it themselves. They realize that parents have always said to open the door for grandma and that they should actually do that with everyone, but the students need to do it more in the general public. I was super impressed because it was early December, and it was a cold and windy day. Everybody was standing there shivering because I was about 30 minutes late, but the boys stepped back and let the girls get on the bus first,” Dzrojkoski said. 

Dzrojkoski doesn’t make his students do these things; he merely suggests them. He is always pleasantly surprised when the students follow the manners that he would like them to though. 

“I only suggest that they do these things; I never force them to. I don’t yell at them if they don’t have good manners with each other. My middle schoolers are the only ones that actually do these things; my high schoolers refuse to,” Dzrojkoski said.

As part of a reward for being so well-mannered on his bus, Dzrojkoski treated his students to breakfast at McDonald's, something that the kids always joked about.

“Kids never get recognized for doing the things that they are supposed to. We go by a McDonald's on the way to school every morning. The kids would always ask me to stop, and I said 'maybe someday.' Well, I made that someday happen. I thought that it was a nice reward for them being good. They had to get a permission slip signed by their parents and were able to miss their first-hour class. The principal, my bosses, and the school resource officers were there, and the kids just had a blast socializing with each other,” Dzrojkoski said. 

Outside of driving the bus and teaching middle schoolers manners, Dzrojkoski enjoys cooking. He likes to bake, but he enjoys cooking even more. He is best known for his brownies and his chicken salad. 

"I love to cook. I started as a kid when I would have to start dinner. I don’t have a favorite thing to cook; I have several. I guess I’m known for certain things, like my brownies and my chicken salad. To me, cooking is relaxing. I create things. Sometimes they’re really good, and sometimes they’re not,” Dzrojkoski said.

Dzrojkoski also takes in struggling young adults and teenagers and rehabilitates them. He gives them a roof over their head, food to eat, clothes to wear, and the wisdom they need to get through whatever they may be struggling with. 

“I took my first struggling adult in when I was in my twenties. I was renting a house with some guys and there was a kid sleeping in our shed. I let him come into our house and gave him a place to sleep. Ever since then, I have had people come in and out of life. I still hear from some of the people that I helped once in a while, while some I’ve never heard from again. My theory is to pick them up, dust them off, and send them on their way,” Dzrojkoski said.

Whether it be teaching manners to middle schoolers or taking in people who need a little rehabilitation, Dzrojkoski shows that, one step at a time, you can make the world a better place.