The Liberty County School System’s transportation department hosted its first back-to-school barbecue luncheon Monday as a show of support for district bus drivers.
Chad McCaskill, the district’s new transportation director, partnered with John Ley of Rush Truck Centers to serve pulled pork to county bus drivers, board of education members and administrators.
“We invited everybody,” McCaskill said. “We wanted everybody to be a part and to see the transportation family.”
The drivers spent Monday morning preparing for the new school year with a safety meeting and employee-handbook orientation. McCaskill said a representative from the Georgia Department of Education also was on hand to conduct a separate safety meeting.
McCaskill said that driving a bus is different from teaching because “(teachers) have got (their) 45 students sitting in front of (them). Bus drivers, they’ve got their 50 students sitting behind them.”
With seven years of bus-driving experience under her belt, Tina Williams said she is ready for the first day of school.
“Today, we went over safety procedures, loading and unloading kids, emergency safety,” she said. “Our job is to get (kids) to school and home safely.”
Williams, who recently relocated to Liberty County from Ohio, said that even with her bus-driving experience, some first-day nerves are to be expected.
“It’s a new area, new children,” she said. “But you have to enjoy kids to be a driver — if you don’t enjoy kids, then you should not be driving.”
Board of education members Carolyn Smith Carter and Marcia Anderson, as well as board Chairwoman Lily Baker, district Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee and Chief Administrative Officer Jason Rogers all were on hand to show their support for the drivers.
“We appreciate what you do,” Baker said. “You’re the first person our children see, and you’re the last person our children see in the evenings.”
“If you greet them well and treat them well, when we get them in our schools, it’s going to be all the easier for them,” Lee added.
“These guys are the unsung heroes,” Rogers noted.
McCaskill said he hopes to host two more barbecues before the year is out to show the drivers his appreciation for their services.
He noted that Lee’s vision of “one team, one direction” has carried over to the transportation department, where everyone has shown enthusiasm for the year ahead.
“This is the best start to a school year that I’ve ever had,” McCaskill said.