SALEM, Ore. — For Salem-Keizer Public Schools employee Sherren Wargnier, driving a school bus is a passion, which is evidenced by her 41-year safe driving record.
In addition to working as a school bus driver for the district, Wargnier told SBF that she became a driver trainer and third-party tester in 1990. In 1992, she became a state instructor, a position she held for nine years.
Michael Shields, director of transportation for the district, told SBF that a third-party tester performs the function of skills assessment for obtaining a CDL.
“It is the same function as if someone were to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),” he explained, and staff from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) noted that the tests Wargnier conducts are recognized by the DMV, which then issues the CDL to the applicant.
For her dedication to the industry, Wargnier received the Big Wheel Award from the ODE several years ago. The award recognizes pupil transporters who not only help the ODE with training programs, but those who also assist the Oregon Pupil Transportation Association with its training and conferences.
“Sherren has helped ODE for many years teaching our behind-the-wheel training and third-party testing programs to new trainers,” officials said.
Other notable accomplishments in her career include being named Driver of the Year for Salem-Keizer Public Schools in 1982-83 and Oregon State Driver Trainer of the Year in 2004.
When asked what she feels has contributed to her 41 years of safe driving, Wargnier cited numerous factors.
“A passion for kids,” she said. “A great shop team that has always kept our fleet in tip-top repair. Being part of a progressive training program that over the years has evolved into what we have now. Being alert and attentive to traffic and students in and out of the bus. Saying a little prayer before each route.”
ODE officials also said that she takes her time behind the wheel, noting that “she has never been one who was in a hurry.”
Wargnier is dedicated to her colleagues at Salem-Keizer Public Schools and making her workspace appealing for everyone as well. She said that people confide in her and look to her for counsel and support.
In addition, she decorates a corner of the Salem-Keizer transportation facility with orchid arrangements. (Wargnier is past president of the local orchid society, and for the past eight years, she has been chairperson for the annual orchid show and sale.)