Albemarle County needs more school bus drivers.
With the school system recruiting new drivers Saturday, NBC29 wanted to take a look at the life – on and off the job – of a school bus driver.
School bus drivers are some of the first people students see in the morning, but rarely do students know what happens when their driver isn't behind the wheel.
One driver for Albemarle County schools, Kellie Washington, is using her part-time pay to support her family's small business. She and her husband Brian are the owners of Vocelli’s Pizza in Woodbrook Shopping Center. It’s a national chain, but they’re the local owners.
But when Kellie opens her doors to students every morning, they know her as the bus driver. And she embraces that.
“I develop a really close relationship with them. I feel like I can talk to them. I really hope that I can be there for them - have questions for them some days. I have kids that hug me when they get on the bus,” she said.
When she drops her passengers off in the morning, Kellie’s work is just getting started and it’s time to head to Vocelli’s. Brian says his wife's job driving the bus brings in the benefits the family needs. They have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.
“The biggest perk with being a bus driver is the benefits - to buy insurance in the individual policy is pretty expensive,” Brian said.
Bus drivers in Albemarle County are part-time workers but they get full-time benefits.
“We have a very diverse work force - as we like to say, GEDs to PHDs,” said Jim Toley, the school system’s director of transportation.
Kellie drives elementary and high school students but her own kids are allowed to come along for the ride, which she says makes things a lot easier since she doesn’t have to pay for day care.
If there's one skill she says she's picked up through her jobs as business owner, bus driver, and mother, it's being a good multi-tasker
“I didn't know I was, but I am now. It's amazing the things that you learn how to do. This is the first job that I've ever had that I didn't dread getting up in the morning, even though I had to get up at 5 a.m.,” she said.
The school division says it's looking for two main qualities in potential candidates: that they like kids and have a clean driving record.
Saturday's recruiting event starts at 8 a.m. behind Albemarle High School.