The Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation named Rudy Rhodes of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District the 2014 School Bus Driver of the Year.
An R-7 employee since 2009, Rhodes was recognized by the association at the group’s annual state conference in Springfield on Wednesday.
Rhodes was nominated by coworker Sandi Larsen based on his community service activities, including initiation of the Book Buddies program at Prairie View Elementary School.
“While talking with his Prairie View Elementary riders, he found a need for some of the students to improve their reading skills,” wrote Larsen in the nomination form. “Mr. Rudy, as he is known by his students, immediately went to work to find a solution to the problem.”
After working with the school’s principal to develop the program, Rhodes approached his fellow bus drivers about volunteering their time to assist students with reading skills. Along with four other drivers, Rhodes kicked off the Book Buddies program during fall 2012.
“The school bus drivers donate many hours during the school year to help children improve their reading skills,” the nomination continued. “Mr. Rudy says he benefits greatly from the time spent with the children.”
In addition to his work with Prairie View Book Buddies, Rhodes volunteers to work with the R-7 School District transportation department during Lee’s Summit’s annual Oktoberfest. At this community event, he talks to children and citizens about school bus safety and is best known as the voice of Buster the Bus, a motorized talking model school bus.
Rhodes received the Lee’s Summit Community of Character Award in January and the Lee’s Summit R-7 Learning for Life Award in February. He serves as a driver for three R-7 schools, including Lee’s Summit High School, Prairie View Elementary and Woodland Elementary. Rhodes joined the R-7 transportation department after retiring from a 28-year career with the United Parcel Service, where he served as operations manager.