School bus drivers shown love during appreciation week

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna shares homemade chili with LCS Bus Drivers for Bus Driver Appreciation Week. Photo by Mariah Wiggs

Leon County School bus drivers were met at Gene Cox Stadium Bus Compound with a smile and a fresh bowl of homemade chili by LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna.  This week Feb. 10 – 14, 2020 is Bus Driver Appreciation Week.

Bus drivers lined up to receive a fresh bowl of chili as they returned from their daily commutes to pick up students.  A table of refreshments and cookies were set up alongside the chili bowls. Hanna wanted to show his love and appreciation to the drivers knowing that their job goes far beyond the wheels of a bus.

“They’re the ones on the front line day in and day out,” said Hanna.  “This is just a little something that I can do to show my personal appreciation for all that they do to protect the safety of our kids and getting them to and from school.”

A stream of smiles, laughter and conversation cycled through the compound for an hour and a half.  At the end, an official approval was made with a shout of “it’s delicious” from one of the drivers.

Veteran bus driver Aisha Ferrell shared her gratitude for the kind gesture from the Superintendent.

“I started with the county in 2003 and I appreciate that they think of us for Bus Driver Appreciation.” said Ferrell.

It’s no secret that the job of a bus driver can be difficult at times, but most say the key is to build a connection with the students.

As the first point of contact in the morning and last point of contact before home, some drivers make it a point to connect with their students.  This helps them know when or if a student is having a bad day.  Even more so, this connection can make students comfortable enough to share how they are feeling.

Bus driver Latonya Faison-Wright shared the importance of knowing your student riders as she shared a story about how she was able to help a student who was contemplating suicide.

“The important part is knowing your students,” said Faison – Wright. “My student felt comfortable enough to let me know how she was feeling.  I was able to report it to the compound and get the help that she needed.”

Eighth grader and bus rider Kamia Duhart believes that bus drivers are often taken for granted by students.  She said this week is the perfect opportunity for students to show their gratitude.

Appreciation for LCS bus drivers goes far beyond seven days.  Compound Manager Frederick Williams explained a weekly prize known as “Reward Friday” for bus drivers at the Cox Compound where they have the opportunity to win in a festive drawing.

“Every Friday we have a lottery system where each driver and bus assistant has an opportunity to win,” said Williams.  “If they have maintained attendance for that complete week, each Friday they have the opportunity to win cash and prizes.”

While appreciation is shown throughout the year, this week is dedicated to honoring the care and hard work of the LCS transportation staff.