ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than 400 school bus drivers and aides here attended a district conference last week that provided training on a variety of topics and recognition for their role in educating students.

Albuquerque Public Schools' student transportation services department hosted the back-to-school event, which covered such topics as behavior intervention, bullying, driver distractions, and emergency procedures and evacuations.

One session, on the topic of media training and crisis prevention, gave school bus drivers tips on "how to avoid ending up on the 10 o’clock news." Monica Armenta, the district's executive director of communications, encouraged the drivers to let transportation services and schools know if their bus is going to be late, if they have concerns about the safety of a bus stop, if they’re dealing with behavior problems that could impact student safety, or if a student is dropped off at the wrong stop.

“Our first priority in this school district, along with educating our kids, is making sure our students are safe, and you play a key role in that mission,” Armenta said. “Like so many other people in public education, you see firsthand things others might miss. You know if a child is happy, sad, picked on or scared. You’re on the front lines and ready to help, most of the time without being asked."

During the conference, the school bus drivers and aides were also treated to breakfast and lunch provided by Albuquerque Public Schools' catering department.

About 400 bus drivers and 80 bus aides transport 41,000 Albuquerque Public Schools student daily, traveling 6.11 million miles annually over 1,200 routes.