Greenville bus driver dedication highlighted during “Bus Safety Week”

Greenville County School District bus drivers volunteer extra nights to help evacuate during Hurricane Matthew. credit: GCSD
Greenville County School District bus drivers volunteer extra nights to help evacuate during Hurricane Matthew. credit: GCSD

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – School districts across the Upstate are celebrating “National Bus Safety Week,” highlighting the measures drivers take to protect our children.

In the Greenville County School District, bus drivers have a safety motto. During their daily routes, drivers are taught to ask themselves, “What is safest for my student?”

“A lot of us really love what we do,” explained Joyce Gladsen.

For 24 years, Gladsen has been the first face students see on their way to school.

“I was on one particular route for 20 years [with] the same kids [and] the same area. I got siblings and we just built a relationship,” said Gladsen.

This veteran driver is challenged each route with making sure her kids get to where they’re going safely.

“Even when you’re approaching a stop, you want to know – especially if there’s more than one child at a stop – “Ok, where are they? Where are they standing at,” she said.

This school year, there’s an increased focus on defensive driving training, according to training safety specialist Rhonda McCuen. Drivers are making sure all cars adhear to the bus warning lights long before a child gets off the bus.

“That gives us the reassurance that no child is going to be run over,” McCuen explained.

McCuen says her drivers often go above the call of duty. She said this was clearly displayed this month when more than 200 drivers headed to Charleston to get people out of Hurricane Matthew’s path.

“I was very proud of the fleet. We had a huge response that wanted to travel to Charleston to evacuate. It made ME proud,” she said.

A photo of drivers volunteering to stay extra nights to help has gone viral online. It is now the feature photo in a “thanks” campaign from the South Carolina school boards association.

Still, the District does have its challenges. Driver shortages and older buses breaking down often require routes to double up, causing delays.

McCuen said they always need good people willing to step up to the plate.

“I always tell them when I’m teaching class, you either hate it or you love it. If you stay two weeks, that means we have a good bus driver,” said McCuen.

Drivers are fully trained by the district, in both classroom time and two weeks of road training. They are required to continue spot training throughout the school year, as well.

Additionally, drivers work with students to make sure everyone knows the best safety practices getting on and off the bus.

To learn more or apply to be a driver, click HERE.

A job fair for interested drivers is being held Tuesday, October 18th, from 5pm to 8pm at Carolina High School.

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