Most school buses today have state-of-the-art safety features to protect riders, including safety lights, stop arms, GPS and protective seating. However, the benefit of these is far outweighed by the most important piece of safety equipment on the bus – the drivers.
A school transportation provider is only as good as its drivers. We seek out the best for what can sometimes be a thankless job. Our drivers receive extensive training to safely transport six million students to and from school each day.
Three of our drivers were recently honored by the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). Each year, the NSTA invites school bus drivers from across the United States and Canada to compete for awards and accolades in its International School Bus Driver Safety Competition. Drivers are put through their paces with a written exam and a challenging obstacle course that tests the skills these drivers use each day as they transport students.
The best of the drivers from this year’s 44th annual competition were recently recognized by the NSTA at its annual convention, held in Charleston, South Carolina. Among them were two First Student drivers – Molly Cornwell of Kansas and Craig Kanner of Alberta, Canada – of which we are incredibly proud. Molly and Craig, along with every award recipient, should be applauded for taking on the role of bus driver and not just doing it, but doing it well.
Each time these drivers climb into the driver’s seat, they take on the tremendous responsibility of delivering precious cargo to either school or home. They make valuable contributions to the education and the well being of the students they transport.
In addition to the competition awards, each year the NSTA presents the Outstanding Driver Service Award. The honor presented to a driver who has provided service above and beyond the level of excellence. This year's recipient is Al Lewis of our First Student team in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He drives a special needs route, and never anticipated being a hero. Al put his training into action to keep students safe during at tense situation in March. While transporting students to school, Al recognized something was amiss during his route. When his bus filled with smoke, he safely evacuated the bus, including two students who were in wheelchairs. His selfless nature and his dedication to his students make him an ideal recipient for this award.
Congratulations to each of the winners and kudos to the NSTA for continuing to make the recognition of our best and brightest a priority.