School districts and contractors across the U.S. honored pupil transporters this month with Love the Bus events.
The annual Love the Bus campaign is headed up by the American School Bus Council.
Here is a recap of just a few of the celebrations for Love the Bus and driver appreciation weeks in a handful of states.
Driver Awarded in Alabama
School bus company Transportation South Inc. hosted its 10th annual “Love the Bus” celebration on Feb. 13, recognizing Alabama’s best school bus drivers as voted by the students, parents, and teachers they serve.
Rebecca Suits, a veteran Arab City Schools bus driver, was announced as the 2019 Alabama “Love the Bus” Driver of the Year.
Suits’ nomination was submitted by Wendell Smith, the transportation director of Arab City Schools. Suits has been driving a school bus for 33 years and began her career in 1986.
Approximately 40 bus drivers were nominated statewide, and over 65 people attended the event. Each school system in Alabama nominated at least one driver.
“There are thousands of great drivers, but we also have many drivers that have a real heart for their jobs,” said Bucky Law, president of Transportation South. “They realize that in a lot of cases when a student gets on the bus, their face might be the first smiling face they see all day long, and in the afternoon when they drop that student off, it might be the last. All of these drivers are like that, or they wouldn’t be here today. We are so proud to honor Ms. Suits with this great honor as the 2019 Alabama “Love the Bus” Driver of the Year.”
Special Breakfasts in North Carolina, Texas
Dozens of schools in North Carolina held Love the Bus events from Feb. 11 to 15, which was designated School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by Gov. Roy Cooper.
One Love the Bus celebration took place on Feb. 11 at Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School. Award-winning bus drivers and safety assistants in the Onslow County Schools district were invited to the breakfast, which was sponsored by HSM Transportation Solutions. Some were also awarded door prizes and got to cut a cake.
Logistics for the event were coordinated by Derek Graham, a pupil transportation consultant whose clients include Education Logistics Inc., and Jeri Blick, the assistant transportation director for the school district.
North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson joined the celebration of student transporters with a visit to Salem Elementary School in Apex, where he rode a school bus with students, greeted bus drivers, and attended a breakfast held in their honor.
Meanwhile, school bus drivers from Rockingham County Schools received over $3,000 worth of donations from McDonald’s for Love the Bus month.
Kevin Harrison, transportation services section chief for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said the state's bus drivers earn this special recognition every day of the school year.
"School bus drivers are among the unsung heroes of our state," Harrison said. "We rely on them every day to safely transport our children to and from school. I hope that all students, parents and staff will take a moment during this week to express their appreciation for the many things their bus drivers do."
Meanwhile, in Texas, the transportation department at Community Independent School District held a Love the Bus appreciation breakfast on Feb. 13 for drivers, mechanics, and bus monitors. During the event, staff members received certificates of appreciation for their dedication and service to pupil transportation.
Glendale Elementary School District #40 kicked off its Love the Bus festivities on Feb. 13 with something sweet: Superintendent Cindy Segotta-Jones and Assistant Superintendent Mike Barragan brought chocolates to all employees in the transportation department, thanking them for their services.
Festivities continued on Feb. 14, when a “Grand” Love the Bus event was held at Sunset Vista Elementary School in Glendale. It was an indoor event, as the rain did not allow the transportation department to bring out a school bus for a meet-and-greet outside, Doris Bean, the manager of transportation for Glendale Elementary School District #40, told SBF. Grand Canyon University cheerleaders and mascots from Arizona sports teams also took part in the celebration.
Bean involved students, too, purchasing a school bus safety-themed book for each one, with grant money from a 2018 United to End Bullying grant from Safe Fleet. She also provided them with special yellow folders, which contained information on reasons to Love the Bus, good ridership, preventing bullying.
Recognition in Wisconsin
School bus company Go Riteway and a local school district teamed up to host local and state officials and a state association for Love the Bus and Wisconsin School Bus Driver Recognition Week on Feb. 15.
Go Riteway worked with the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District, the Wisconsin School Bus Association, and the American School Bus Council on the event.
The event started at Go Riteway’s terminal in Oak Creek, and then proceeded to Forest Ridge Elementary School, where pictures were taken with school bus drivers, students, and local and state dignitaries.
To see more Love the Bus photos, go here.