Transportation kicks off new year in high gear at Bus Fest
CASTLE ROCK – Castle View High School was painted yellow this week as dozens of buses converged for the 2014 Bus Fest.
The annual event brings the entire Transportation department together to kick off the school year and to provide the staff with important safety training, as well as team building.
“It’s a great event to get everybody together, so that folks from West, East and North Terminals can meet each other, collaborate and share great ideas with each other,” said Chief Operations Officer Thomas Tsai.
“I just love this,” added Transportation Director Donna Grattino. “Everyone is getting a chance to get together to meet and talk. It’s been very cool.”
The event was a perfect opportunity for Grattino to meet her new staff, only a week after joining the District.
“It’s very refreshing to see them all get together and the camaraderie with all the drivers,” Grattino said.
The Transportation staff also had an opportunity to say thank you and goodbye to their interim director, Scott Benefield, who will return to retirement at the end of this month.
Throughout the building, you could feel the excitement for the new school year.
“They really love the kids,” Grattino said. “The drivers keep saying how much they love being in Douglas County, how much they love taking care of their kids and their bus routes. That is so refreshing, to come into this atmosphere.”
“They’re all excited about the first day of school,” Grattino added. “They’re all excited to get back out on their bus routes. That is contagious. It filters through the whole team.”
“I think this is great,” said Valorie Shortman, a transportation education assistant (TEA), who just joined DCSD.
“Coming from a company that was downsizing, this is very refreshing to me,” Shortman said. “All of the people are very friendly. It’s nice to meet the leadership here. It has been very positive.”
Another rookie TEA, Anna Garrison, shared her enthusiasm.
“I feel like, for the first time, I’m entering a job that I’m excited to be in and excited to do. It is where I’m meant to be,” Garrison said.
She will be working to assist students with special needs during their time on the bus.
“I’ve always felt drawn to those who have needs. I have that spirit, that compassion. When you have something, you want to use it,” Garrison said.
The excitement was no less apparent when talking to veteran bus driver Leon Scheglov. It is his eighth year with DCSD and he’s excited to begin preparations for the new school year. Prior to picking up the first student, he and the other drivers will be out on their routes this week, looking for any safety concerns and getting to know the stops.
“Timing is very important. We want to make sure that we get all of our students to school on time.”
He says that he really enjoys getting to know his special needs students.
“They are teaching all of us. They’re not special because they have a disability. I learn more from these kids than they learn from me,” Scheglov said.
During Bus Fest and continuing into the new school year, the focus for the Transportation department will be on quality, safety and efficiency.
“Ultimately any time the children are in our care, that is an incredible responsibility,” Tsai said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Bus Fest 2014 on Facebook