The week of Feb. 12-16 is North Carolina’s School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, and each day one of our dedicated drivers will be introduced to the HCPS family.
The open waters of the Caribbean in the summertime called Marqueta and Tom Laughter to hit the pavement driving bus routes during the school year – though Marqueta will be quick to tell you she’s got three years on her husband’s 22-year driving career.
“I started before he did and talked him into it,” Marqueta said.
Twenty-five years ago, Marqueta was a CNA med tech working in a nursing home when she started driving for Polk County Schools.
“I decided I wanted to do something else – didn’t have enough to do,” she said. “I’ve always been that way.”
At the time, Tom owned an electrical company. Three years into driving school buses, Marqueta convinced her husband to get his Commercial Driver License.
“We wanted to do some cruises,” Tom explained.
“I thought the extra paycheck would help,” said Marqueta.
So far, the couple has been on 27 cruises, and they’re planning their 28th.
“See? It worked out!” Marqueta said, chuckling.
While Tom still owned and operated his own electrical company, “He always made sure he got off in time to drive the buses,” Marqueta said.
Now both retired and driving in Henderson County, the Laughters have together logged about 35 years driving Henderson County Public Schools’ buses, and they love East Henderson High – despite being assigned some of the toughest routes in the county.
“You know Jeter Mountain? I’ve got that one,” Tom said. “And I’ve got Holliday Drive,” said Marqueta.
They said the challenging routes don’t phase them at all, and they’d be happy to drive another 20 years – as long as it’s for East Henderson High. Proud Eagles, the Laughters’ two children went to East, and their granddaughter is currently a student.
“We’ll both be here until they tell us we can’t drive anymore,” Marqueta said. “But it has to be East.”
“I wouldn’t drive nowhere else,” Tom said.
– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer