STN received over 40 hero nominations last year to recognize drivers for their everyday

examples of heroism. Visit the full list at While it comes as no surprise that the industry is full of kind-hearted, dedicated people, STN focused on the

nominations that further exemplified their heroic acts. The nominees kept students calm during a crash, performed the Heimlich maneuver when

a student was choking, or they gave back to the community that has given so much to them. Regardless of the reason for their nomination, these student transporters went above and beyond their every-day call of duty.

“Everybody uses that word, hero, to describe what hap- pened. It’s not a word that I necessarily enjoy being used to describe it, because I was just doing my job. It’s something that you had to do. If I hadn’t have done it, my student would have died.”

A Blue Bird representative (left) presented the 2019 Blue Bird Heroism Award to school bus driver Samantha Call (right).

At 21 years old and as soon as New York state law per- mitted, Samantha Call applied for her CDL. She had ridden on her mom’s school bus her entire K-12 educational career. But she didn’t start sitting in the driver’s seat on routes until

six years ago. Throughout her career, the one thing the school bus driver for Norwich City School District (located about 50 miles southeast of Syracuse) noted that hasn’t changed, and seemingly has only

increased, is illegal passing. What started out as a normal day for Call last April 26, became a day that changed a child’s life forever. Call had just pulled up to an afternoon stop and was opening the front door for student Matt to

exit. Instinctively, Call noticed a car approaching on the right side of the school bus and pulled Matt back from the door as the vehicle sped by. “We all have to be on the lookout,” Call said. “It’s not just something that I would do. It’s some- thing I believe anybody I work with, or any school bus driver anywhere, would do.” She attributed her reaction that to the training she received at the district. The district holds

three training sessions a year for both its transportation staff and the students on loading and unloading practices. They cover everything from properly stopping the bus to reminding chil- dren to look both ways when crossing the road. Call received the 2019 Blue Bird Heroism Award after a video showing the incident went viral.

However, William Loomis, the district’s transportation supervisor, said the only intent of posting the video on Facebook was to bring awareness to the illegal passing epidemic that occurs daily. Loomis warned that something needs to be done about it before more children are tragically killed. Call acknowledged that she is very thankful for Blue Bird’s recognition, adding that she

couldn’t see herself in any other career. “That meant the world to me,” Call shared. “That was such an honor to think that somebody

from a small town in New York would [receive] such a big award.” While Call and her district were nationally recognized, other student transporters tend to

fall under the radar. They are only given the limelight when something unfavorable happens. Visit for tips on how to recognize employee’s accomplishments by

using social media.

44 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2020

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