HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY)- After 55 years of driving a school bus, Linda Mason-Brooke says she would drive for another 55 years if she could.
“I just love what I do. And when you love what you do, you just keep doing it and enjoy it,” she said.
Her school division recognized her with gifts and flowers Thursday during a School Transportation Week celebration. All bus drivers were greeted with goodie bags and a Bethel High School drum line performance. But the special recognition made Mason-Brooke tear up.
“My heart is just fluttering. It’s so exciting for me today because I’ve always loved my job,” she said. “But I never thought I would get recognized for doing it.
She has served with her supervisor, Darrin Wills, Director of Transportation, for 24 years. Wills called Mason-Brooke “a blessing” to the school division.
For Mason-Brooke, the job is personal. She greets every child by name each morning.
“I know my children, I know where they sit. I know everything about them that I need to know,” she said, adding that calling students by name shows that they’re important to her.
Wills says that people like Mason-Brooke make the division a great place to work. Amid a nationwide bus driver shortage, HCPS only has 12 driver vacancies.
He says that recruiting efforts proved effective in staffing the bus fleet.
“We have walk-in interviews. We do interviews on the spot. We check our applications,” he said. The district has hiring events each Wednesday morning, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the operations center.
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Wills said staff is flexible and has been cooperative in taking on extra routes to get students to school.
“As usual, the drivers and attendants rise to the occasion,” Wills said.