Local bus drivers earn statewide recognition

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 School bus driver trainers Virginia Buehler, Donna Dennis and Linda Toy have been named the Best in Kentucky...again.

The trio captured the Outstanding Training Award from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). They received an engraved plaque adorned with a clock.

Kentucky Department of Education Official Roy Prince said this is the first time in Kentucky history that the same driver trainers from the same district have repeated the accomplishment. They earned the same honor in 2008.

“We were shocked and surprised,” Dennis said.

Toy telephoned Buehler who was at a previously scheduled family function.

“I got her daughter and she told her about the award,” Toy said. “Virginia was very excited!”

These honors are special but the trainers are motivated by something different.

“The award is nice but our commitment is to the safe transportation of our passengers to and from school,” Dennis said. She is the veteran with 18 years district experience (18 years as a school bus driver and 14 years as a driver trainer).

“My mother always said you should strive for excellence yet work as if you have not attained it,” echoed Buehler who has been with the district since 1987. She has 24 years of experience as a driver and 11 years of experience as a trainer.

“Driving a school bus is not a job...” added Toy. “I love what I do.” She is the newcomer having 11 years invested in the district. She has been a driver for 11 years and a trainer for seven of those years.

Interim Transportation Director Eddie Clan praised their accomplishment.

“I am very proud of our driver trainers and the accomplishments they have been awarded,” he said. “I know the Number One thing our drivers care about is the safety of the children and families in our county. I am honored to work for Bullitt County Public School Transportation Department as Interim Director of Pupil Transportation and be part of this award.”

The responsibilities of a school bus driver revolve around their knowledge of a district bus manual, their skill behind the wheel and their interaction with students.

“It is part inspection, part mechanical and part care as you prepare a school bus, make sure it is ready for the road and invest every bit of skill into picking up kids from their home,” Dennis explained. She drives a bus that serves students from Roby Elementary School, Bullitt Lick Middle School and the TeenAge Parent Program (TAPP) at the Riverview Opportunity Center.

A school bus is the final glimpse a parent has of their children going to school. It is also the first look when students arrive home.

In between, the driver trainers say it is important to let students know they care.

“We start with a friendly morning greeting, a smooth ride to school and a ‘Have a great school day,” said Toy, who has an eastern Bullitt County route picking up students for Old Mill Elementary, Mt. Washington Middle and Bullitt East High Schools. “We finish with an afternoon greeting, a smooth ride home and a, ‘Have a nice evening and see you in the morning’. We want our kids to know we care about them.”

In addition to school bus driving, the trainers follow the bus manual to the letter.

“Some candidates for school bus driver jobs work out fine,” Buehler said. “Others do not and they leave. If you want to drive a school bus you must care about kids.” She also drives in the eastern area of the county. She picks up students for Old Mill Elementary, Eastside Middle and Bullitt East High School.

“I am very content being a school bus driver and trainer, especially in Bullitt County,” Dennis said.

“This is where I choose to work,” Buehler added. “I enjoy being with the kids, colleagues and management.”

“It’s exciting because there is something different every day,” Toy said.

Bullitt County Public Schools has nearly 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.