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Driving into Our Future
CCCS bus drivers and bus aides play an important role in the lives of our students. Beyond getting them safely to school, many bus drivers are crucial to students’ behavioral wellbeing both on the bus and in the classroom.
Mr. Woods, a beloved bus driver for CCCS students, has provided transportation services for over 25 years and administered services at the school for the past six. He starts and ends his days helping kids get to school and return home safely. In between, he is helping them get through the rigor of their academic day. Mr. Woods has worked nonstop over the summers as well with the assistance of his long-time bus attendant of more than 15 years, Ms. Torrez.
Mrs. Torrez acts as the “eyes in the back of the head, tending to students while Mr. Woods drives. Woods believes more buses should seek the assistance of an aide to manage the passengers and ensure safe transport. When asked how to maintain a positive atmosphere on the bus he says, “I involve the students and encourage them to hold each other accountable. I set the standard by educating them on bus safety and passenger etiquette. You have to show the kids that you care, be genuine and consistent.”
Twice per month, Woods rewards his scholars’ positive behavior by treating them to pizza. Because he established a good rapport with the children, Woods was offered the position to work as a Building Aide. “Mark Battinieri, CCCS’s Chief Operating Officer, noticed that I always came to work. I never take off; in fact, that’s my motto”, Woods recalls.
As a five-year Cancer survivor, Woods has gained a unique and positive outlook on life; he strives to make each day great and treat everyone with love and respect. “The only challenges I face are the other drivers on the road. The kids don’t give me any problems. Our job is to manage the children while they’re on the bus and to safely transport them. I love the kids, if you don’t enjoy working with kids, you can’t be in this business.”
Nate Billups is another bus driver who also works as a building aide at the CCCS East Campus. “I’ve been driving for 13 years in total, the last six at CCCS. Over time I became acquainted with a lot of the staff, so I decided to become a building aide. I grew fond of the position, interacting with the students, making their days better, and working to foster positive relationships with and between them.”
“With the current school bus driver shortage we are experiencing both locally and nationally it is really special to see our CCCS drivers so committed to our children and their education.Not only are they doing it by bringing them to school every day, but they are doubling down on their commitment by supporting our children all day in the classroom as well.”
Ms. Hunter has worked in transportation services for 16 years and specifically with CCCS for the last five. As an experienced driver, her word of advice to novice drivers is, “learn your students, pay attention to them and if all else fails count them. Their safety is the number one priority, so know who rides your bus. Don’t allow just anyone to board.”
Ms. Hunter enjoys driving CCCS and then working with them at school. “They make me feel appreciated!”
Each month, the CCCS Transportation Department recognizes 3 drivers with gift cards. Mike Sawyer, Director of Transportation, stated, “These last few years have been extremely hard for pupil transportation. The driver shortage is real. We are fortunate to have great supporting drivers like Mr. Woods, Mr. Nate, and Ms. Hunter on our team. Thank you for driving the future for education.”