Turning unsung heroes into ‘sung’ heroes

Frank Di Giacomo
Posted on February 15, 2011

The school bus industry is filled with unsung heroes.

Drivers, aides, technicians, trainers, dispatchers, managers and other staff members — with their daily duties, they all play a vital part in the safety and education of our nation’s children.

Often, they’re presented with an opportunity to go beyond their usual routine and make a more sudden and dramatic impact on someone’s life.

To turn some of these unsung heroes into “sung” heroes, we at SCHOOL BUS FLEET decided to launch a new feature called “Heroes in School Transportation."

The premise is simple: present the stories of pupil transportation professionals who have saved a life or performed some other selfless action. The results are intriguing and inspiring.

Well-trained and dedicated
One of the themes in this set of hero profiles is how the training that school bus drivers and aides had undergone helped them respond to people in need.

For example, Belinda Johnson used the CPR instruction she received as a school bus driver to rescue an elderly man at her second job.

Driver April Grubbs and aide Susan Smith drew on the special-needs training they had gone through to calm down an autistic passenger and keep everyone on the bus safe.

But training isn’t the only factor at work in these situations. In some cases, the heroes were spurred into action by instincts — and their desire to help others.

Take Rosemarie Fullone. As she took a detour and drove down a different street than usual, there was a young lady with Down syndrome walking alone on the sidewalk. The girl caught Fullone’s eye, and she decided to stop and check on her rather than just assume everything was fine and continue on her way. It turned out that the girl had gotten out of the house, and her family was worried and looking for her.

It isn’t just life-saving acts that we’re recognizing with this feature. School bus driver Dawn Hill-Fleury shows another type of heroism: volunteering her time each year to transport children with cancer to a summer camp. And when she recently learned that a driver from another terminal had an ill child, Hill-Fleury immediately began collecting items to help out the family.

More heroism to proclaim
This first edition of “Heroes in School Transportation” is only a small slice of the countless remarkable stories that are out there. But we plan to bring back the feature next year and beyond to chronicle many more of these valiant efforts.

This fall, we’ll again solicit hero nominations, and we want to attract even more entries. Don’t hesitate to tell us about a staff member’s brave deeds.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our e-mail newsletter at to make sure you’re in the loop on the call for nominations as well as the pertinent pupil transportation news our editors are continually covering.

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