The week of Feb. 13-17 is North Carolina’s School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, and each day one of our dedicated drivers will be introduced to the HCPS family.
Sheila Benjamin has a connection with everyone in town. She went to school at West Henderson High School, her husband graduated from Hendersonville High School, her kids graduated from East Henderson High School, and she is a bus driver at North Henderson High. “We cover the whole county,” she said.
A loyal Knight, Benjamin has spent her entire 11 years employed by Henderson County Public Schools as a bus driver for North Henderson High because she has always loved the school.
Benjamin’s favorite memory was from her first week as a bus driver. The bus and route she was assigned to had been a struggle for the previous six drivers. As soon as Benjamin stepped on the bus, she noticed a student who’d been causing some trouble. The first – and only time – the student created an issue, Benjamin suspended him from the bus. From then on, he followed the bus rules and even became her rules enforcer.
“He would say, ‘You better listen to what she says or she will kick you off the bus,’” Benjamin said.
Following the rules is important because safety is Benjamin’s number one priority. Not only does she watch the teens, making sure they are all safe inside the bus, she’s vigilant watching everyone around her. Benjamin said she’s careful to monitor the surrounding cars, making sure that they come to a complete stop when she sticks out the bus’ stop arm.
“It only takes 20 seconds to stop, get the kid to a safe area, and go on,” Benjamin said.
The future to Benjamin is a mystery, but she does know her goal is to get a full-time position in the schools working with underprivileged students.
She said, “I don’t like labels like, ‘That’s just a bad kid,’ or, ‘They have a problem.’”
Benjamin said all children have potential and she wants to be a mentor to help guide them.
– By Alex Ramirez, Early College
Public Information Office Intern, HCPS