Hannah is a 19-year-old special-needs student transported by First Student for the Central Point School District. She attends a transitions program, where she learns skills to help her become more independent. Traveling to and from this program 20 miles away requires that Hannah be on the school bus for long periods of time, which can be stressful to a special-needs student, depending on their limitations.
Hannah’s family is a true testament in the confidence that they place in First Student bus drivers and their expertise in transporting special-needs children. Hannah’s mother, , feels confident and reassured in knowing that Hannah is in the care of Imy, a special-needs driver for First Student. They’ve not only developed a professional relationship with Imy, but a personal one as well. Imy has met Hannah’s grandparents and Hannah’s dog, who often runs out to the bus to greet her and the students. “I’m appreciative of the fact that Hannah is transported by a driver that I trust and has become a friend to our family,” says Hannah’s mother. “She keeps me informed on Hannah’s daily activities or events coming up at school. She has good interaction with Hanna’s teachers, and she relays that information to our family. Hannah has limited communication skills, so it’s important to have the driver relay information to us on a daily basis.”
First Student ensures that its drivers complete a training program that encompasses all facets of transporting special-needs students, including handling special equipment for the students. Education programs include workshops, manuals, and on-the-job training, which cover a range of topics such as characteristics of disabilities, sensitivity, laws and liabilities involved in transporting special-needs children, student behavior management, wheelchair-lift operation, and dealing with parents’ unique responsibilities. “Being a special-needs driver, we are specially trained to take care of the child’s needs. We make sure that we have a proper plan of action put into place to take care of the child and reassure the parents that their child is safe on my bus,” Imy says.
Imy adores Hannah and lights up when she talks about her friendship with Hannah and her family. She says that Hannah is a sweet child who doesn’t speak much but flashes a big smile when Imy tells her a funny story or when the other students on the bus react to a humorous story. “I want to know my kids. I want to have some sort of relationship with them,” Imy says. Hannah and the other students adore Imy as much as she adores them. “You know, my kids miss me. If I have to drive another route to help another driver, when I come back, my kids are so happy to see me,” Imy says.
Imy gets to know her students, from their interests to what makes each of them unqiue. This extra attention to the students and their interests goes a long way not only in ensuring the students have an enjoyable ride on the bus but in reassuring the parents that their children are in good hands with a driver who genuinely cares about the students.
“I deliver precious cargo,” Imy says. “I deliver people’s children who mean more than anything to them. They are just as special to me as they are to their parents. And I want to make sure that they arrive safely and on time.”
Learn more about the special needs student transportation services available from First Student.