Safety Superhero

I love my bus driver because he or she is a...

...Safety Superhero

On Feb. 14, 52 PPS bus drivers were honored for their combined 397 years of safely transporting Portage students to and from school. The Valentine's Day recognition, also known as The Safe Drivers Awards Program, was in conjunction with the American School Bus Council's (ASBC) annual February Love the Bus program. In its fifth consecutive year, the Safe Driver Awards Program gave eligible bus drivers a Certificate of Recognition for a preventable accident free driving record. Those with multiple years of safe driving were given a lapel pin indicating the milestone. The Safe Driver Awards Program is open to employees who have a daily driving assignment involving driving a school bus for official District business, and who have not had their driving privileges revoked or suspended. Driving a school bus is a special skill that is not for everyone, said PPS transportation manager Louk Markham. Portage's professional school bus drivers are conscientious, safe, and truly love their job and what they do every day.


Submitted by Louk Markham
Transportation Manager, Portage Public Schools
Portage, MI

It is our pleasure to submit this recognition for Miss Debbie Detar, bus driver #111 .She an exemplary person and enjoys driving our students to school. One of her many strength is that she takes interest in our students and offers support and encouragement that reflects sensitivity and genuine concern. She has over 70 students without an assistant and it amazes me how clam she handles challenging situations. She is always here on time with a HUGE smile and motivates our students to reach for the stars.


Submitted by Maritza Barbieri
Bus Coordinator, North Grade Elementary
Lake Worth, FL

I just think that my kid's bus driver is the best bus driver in Frederick County MD. Mrs Kathy would do anything for them. She goes out of her way to make sure they are safe. I don't know I would do without her. She drives bus 320. We love her very much.

Submitted by Tonya Hopkins
Parent, Carroll Manor Elementary School
Adamstown, MD

My name is Karlie and my School Driver is Mrs. Chelios. Mrs. Chelios is a very nice driver and safe. She always makes sure I am safely home every school day. Mrs. Chelios always smiles and keeps us safe while we are in the bus.

I was scared to ride a School Bus and Mrs. Chelios helped me by not being afraid.

Thank you Mrs. Chelios!

Submitted by Karlie Kopec 
1st Grader at Wilson Creek School 
Manhattan, IL

While driving his loaded school bus to Reedy Creek Elementary School, Francisco Trujillo began to smell an odor usually associated with natural gas. As he continued driving towards school the smell grew stronger so he called the dispatcher on his bus radio and told her about the strong odor. The fire department responded to the area and was able to locate a leak in a natural gas line which was quickly repaired by the gas company.

Submitted by Bev Hughes
Transportation Area Manager, Osceola District Schools
Kissimmee, FL

Ms. Norma Martin is the kindest bus driver. She is kind to all the kids and makes them respect each other. She waits patiently on the kids and is a safety-conscious bus driver. She should be commended for her service.

She has been driving my kids, one who is in college now and the other in 5th grade, since 2001. She is the BEST and we love her! She is genuinely concerned about the kids' welfare.

Submitted by Edie and Erin Duffey
Bus Driver, Oak Mountain Intermediate School
Birmingham, AL

I love my bus driver because she is very nice and she gives use all kinds of stuff and she make sure your on the bus so that why I think my bus driver is a good person

Submitted by Quinton Davis
5th Grader, North Grade School
Lake Worth, FL

Alice Stearns drives Bus #5 for Unity Point Elementary. She is not only a professional as a bus driver but she treats the students like they were her own children. She always makes sure that all the students are secure and safe at home before driving away. She takes the time and effort to go the extra mile for each and every child. We couldn't ask for a better bus driver when it comes to "Alice". Thank God for her protection over our precious cargo.

Submitted by Debbie Hedrick
Mom of 8th grade student, Unity Point Elementary School
Carbondale, IL

The Bellevue School District has a fleet of 300 vehicles, which include warehouse, maintenance trucks, district cars and 100 state regulated school buses. The pride and camaraderie of 9 mechanics and one shop assistant to over-see, maintain and repair this fleet directly contribute to years of awards issued by the state of Washington for impeccable safety.

School bus Drivers start their rigs in the morning and begin a thorough inspection of the vehicle, if at that time any defects are discovered the mechanics fix them or that bus does not leave the lot. The Bellevue school district has supplied the shop with an up-dated computer system that stores data about each vehicle. This information is crucial to keep current the scheduled maintenance for such a varied fleet of transportation vehicles.

This endless task depletes the parts supply quickly so the lead parts man monitors, orders and restocks so the crew always have what they need also If a rig needs new rubber there is someone dedicated to that job as well.

The night crew collects inspection sheets- a form that drivers fill out, noting any unusual clangs, bumps, rattles, bangs or burned out bulbs. The night crew address those issues, while continuing to keep the fleet's multiple machinery well- tuned, and running smooth, for the next day.

The state patrol conducts a state certified bus inspection twice a year. A summer inspection examines every bus and issues a safety document for each bus or that bus is placed out of service. The patrol does a second surprise check unannounced during the school year that looks at 25% of the fleet. The Bellevue school district mechanics have passed these through inspections every year since the inception of this program in 1998.

Anyone who sees a Bellevue school district vehicle should know that the office walls of the Bellevue School district mechanics are covered with certificates of merit for excellence and safety awarded to them by the Washington state patrol certified inspectors.

Submitted by Mindi Lee
Bus Driver, Bellevue School District
Bellevue, WA


It was anything but a routine drive for Winkle Bus Service Driver Janette Murray. On Nov. 16, 2004, while bringing 42 students home from Mathewson School in Milford, Conn., Ms. Murray smelled smoke in the bus and felt heat building up on the floor. She immediately pulled the bus over to a secure location and began evacuation procedures.

Within seconds of clearing the bus, the vehicle burst into flames.

Had it not been for Ms. Murray's quick thinking, a tragedy would have occurred. Because of the extensive training that Ms. Murray has undergone, everyone safely evacuated the bus and no one was injured. Older children helped the younger ones off of the bus.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Congratulations to Janette Murray for her courageous and heroic actions. Her quick response to an emergency incident saved the lives of all of those on board.

Ms. Murray was quoted as saying, "I was just doing my job."

Submitted by Bill Moore, CAE
Executive Director
Connecticut School Transportation Association, Newington, Conn.

This morning one of our students was being harassed by an older student at her bus stop. She ended up being pushed to the ground and her purse dumped all over the ground. She was unable to gather all of her belongings before the bus arrived, so she left them behind. The bus driver, Lori Ann contacted our school and asked that I meet the bus. I went down to the bus and she explained what she knew about the incident. I asked her to write it up, which she did very quickly, and I told her that I would follow up on it.

Here is the amazing thing ... After Lori Ann left our school, she knew that she had a little extra time before her next run, so she decided to drive back out to Green Tree and try to recover the items that were left behind. She was able to recover everything (MP3 player, calculator, etc.).

I cannot imagine a more thoughtful gesture! I know that the little girl that had such an awful start to her day was able to leave here with a smile on her face because she had all of her things back. This District is so lucky to have a person as professional and thoughtful as Lori Ann. This gesture went well beyond the call of duty. I know this is something that I will always remember as one of the nicest acts of kindness ever done for a child.

Submitted by Annie Bell
Transportation Director
Peninsula School District, Gig Harbor, Wash.

Ms. Zita Ferebee, a four year school bus driver for the Perquimans County Schools, approached her final stop of the morning on U.S. Highway 17, less than a mile from her home. There were 41 students on board as she activated the amber lights, signaling traffic to slow. The single student scheduled to board at this stop (fortunately) was not there on that day. As she looked in her rearview mirror, Ms. Ferebee saw a black pickup truck bearing down on the school bus. The truck struck the rear of the school bus, careened off the left side of the road and then came back on the road striking the front of the bus with such force that the truck burst into flames.

The force of the crash pushed the school bus off the road into a ditch. Ms. Ferebee is credited with keeping the bus from rolling over and then taking charge as the fire quickly spread from the truck to the bus. Ms. Ferebee had been trained to evacuate the school bus, but never believed she would have to. Instinctively, her training kicked in. Just recently the students had participated in evacuation training, so they were very prepared to respond to instructions from the lady they know as "Miss Zita."

As the flames entered the bus from the front, the students scrambled to the rear of the bus, only to find the emergency door had been rendered inoperable by the crash. Several students wrapped their hands in cloths and beat out the rear windows and the emergency door window. Most students escaped through these windows, aided by an unidentified motorist that stopped to help.

Miss Zita continued to help all 41 students escape the bus to safety until her job was done. When it appeared that all students had been safely evacuated, Mrs. Zita made one final trip to the front of the bus, toward the encroaching flames, to make sure - ABSOLUTELY SURE - that no students, either asleep, trapped or simply too scared to move - remained on the bus. Only then did Miss Zita climb through one of the rear windows to safety.

Once safely away from the fire, Miss Zita embraced her student passengers and realized then more than ever how much she loved them. THAT'S why she was meant to be a school bus driver.

Submitted by Derek Graham
Section Chief, Transportation Services Location 
North Carolina Department of Public, Raleigh, N.C.

On the afternoon of March 21, 2006, school bus driver Donna Greenfield was making her usually pickup at the middle school and headed to the high school in Pendleton, Oregon. As she was headed down Westgate, she looked in the student mirror and saw this student pointing at himself. Greenfield thought that he was going to get sick so she started to look for a place to safely pull over. The she saw the fear in his eyes and his extreme red color and realized he was choking and could not breathe. She immediately radioed in to dispatch, who immediately reached 911 to get an ambulance headed her way.

Donna Greenfield reverted to her first aid training and performed the Heimlich maneuver. She did the maneuver 3 times and did not dislodge the object from his throat. She got on the radio and informed us that it was not releasing. The bus driver First Aid Instructor Bonnie Lienweber got on the radio and told her to keep doing it and Donna did. After 10 or 12 more times the object was dislodged and the 6th grader was able to breathe again.

The ambulance crew arrived shortly after that and checked the young man out and called his mother at home. The student's mother released him to continue his ride home. The bus continued on and the young man got off at his stop in Riverside and within seconds of getting off the bus was happily bouncing a basketball because his bus driver was alert that day. Donna said after going through that experience, "it's nothing like you see on TV."

We owe thanks to the ambulance crew who responded to the scene and were there very quickly. And also to our driver Donna Greenfield who acted very well under extreme life and death pressure.

Submitted by Mark Parm
Mid Columbia Bus Company, Pendleton, Ore.