The two other Drivers of the Month were Elaine Wilson of Burns Middle School and Vicki Stamey of Washington Elementary. Participants of the Bus Driver of the Month program were able to compete against other winners to become Bus Driver of the Year.
Gaston was praised by the Jefferson Elementary administration for taking ownership of her bus, updating her routes, and caring about other people.
"I've known Ms. Gaston for a long time. I first got to know her when I taught her daughter at Shelby Middle School, but I've gotten to know her so much better during this competition," said David Pless, director of transportation for CCS. "She has a beautiful, caring spirit. She's one of those great people that has the ability to laugh and have fun, but when it comes to the safety of her bus route, it's all business!"
The Bus Driver of the Year program involved a panel interview, a pre-trip inspection demonstration and a road test. This annual award is given to drivers who follow in the dedicated footsteps of Mr. Byrnes throughout his long and successful career in school transportation. Sponsors are J. Morgan Co. and Royster Oil Co.
The Dave Hinson Awards were presented to drivers who display excellence and exhibit qualities of service as Mr. Hinson did during his many years of service with Cleveland County Schools. There were multiple deserving recipients from each county school.
Kevin Queen was honored as the 2015-2016 W.D. Smith Bus Administrator of the Year. This award was given to an administrator who demonstrated the qualities of the late Mr. Smith, a former CCS transportation director who was known for his dedication, passion, attention to detail, and positive attitude.
Pless said Queen had been earning this award for the last 6 years by doing even small tasks like paperwork well.
"He treats his drivers well, he treats other people the way he wants to be treated, he does what he says he's gonna do, and he takes care of business," Pless said. "I'm a big Kevin Queen fan."
Pless said he felt blessed and thankful to be able to work with the great team of all the bus drivers, administrators, and transportation staff.
See below for downloadable event photos.