By Leslie Rivera, Communications Officer
It takes a team of hundreds to keep Atlanta Public Schools buses running smoothly and safely. The job descriptions for members of the transportation team involve everything from problem-solving mechanical issues to maintaining order on a 40-foot bus during Atlanta’s peak traffic hours. Bus driver Regina Strickland reminds us they all have one thing in common, “we always have to put our kids first.”
This week Atlanta Public Schools recognizes National School Bus Safety week with a look at some of the people entrusted with the crucial task of making sure students are safe as they travel to and from school each day.
Mechanic Melvin Scott started working on cars with his stepfather when he was just 9 years old. He traveled the world while serving in the Army with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and never imagined an 18-year career with the district. He remembers the sight of school buses outside the window at Washington High School, “I never had a chance to ride the school bus to school and I never thought the day would come that I would be working on the school buses,” Scott said.
His role includes conducting state inspections and maintenance on anywhere from five to eight buses a day. “Every day it’s a different thing,” Scott explains. It could involve changing bulbs, tightening mirrors and checking fluids to retrieving a bus that’s broken down on its route.
As a grandfather, Scott understands the importance of keeping a safe fleet, “the most precious thing we carry are the kids.”
You may find Scott working on cars even when he’s not on the job. He also makes time for fishing, “it’s relaxing, gives you time to think.”
Deborah Davis has been an APS employee 18 years. As a bus monitor she is dedicated to students with special needs. Her role includes maintaining order on the bus while assisting drivers with students. The job seems natural to her having worked in nursing in the past as a certified nursing assistant. “I enjoy working with people,” Davis said in describing what she enjoys most about her role.
Bus driver Regina Strickland began her 27-year career with Atlanta Public Schools as a bus monitor. She’s been behind the wheel since 1989. It’s a responsibility she does not take lightly. “When you send your kids off in the morning and they get on that bus they are in the care of somebody totally different… even if it’s just five minutes you are still entrusting us to take care of your kids,” Strickland explained.
Outside of work she enjoys photography and traveling. Her favorite trips are cruises and trips to see her nephew, a junior at Vanderbilt University, play football. The proud Atlanta Public Schools graduate is also busy planning her wedding.
Strickland most enjoys her time with the preschoolers, especially when she’s greeted with a hug. “Kids are the top priority,” Strickland said.
These employees and the entire transportation team are critical to maintaining a safe environment. APS Transportation Executive Director John Franklin reminds us students and motorists also play an important role. “National School Bus Safety Week is a great time to pause and remind everyone about school bus safety. Schools buses are statistically shown to be the safest mode of transportation for students to and from school each day. Safety on school buses is achieved through many aspects: well-trained and vetted professional bus drivers, safe driving practices, effective student management, good maintenance and strategic routing. For our students, this year’s National Poster theme for school bus safety carries an important message, “be smart, be seen, I wait in a safe place!”