Thirty-three years ago, Doris Bencivenga walked into her children’s school with a complaint about their bus driver – and walked out with a job.
Bencivenga had told the assistant principal she thought she could do a better job as a bus driver, and then she put her money where her mouth was.
Having been a frustrated parent, Bencivenga said she used her ideal for a school bus driver to inspire her on the job. And it’s been working.
She tells her students, “All kids are equal,” and she doesn’t tolerate put-downs. Bencivenga has the respect of her students and her peers at West Henderson High, and throughout the years, she’s been given the responsibility of driving some of the area’s toughest routes.
At first, Bencivenga said, she was troubled to find out she had the hardest route out of the 17 buses at West. But Mike Pressley, then the assistant principal at Rugby Middle – which was part of Bencivenga’s route – offered her encouragement.
“He said, ‘You’ve got the makings to be a good bus driver. If I can help in any way, I’d like to see you stay,’” Bencivenga said.
She said Pressley helped her gain confidence in her role as bus driver, and now it’s a job she hates to miss. So much so that Bencivenga worked double time in physical therapy to return to her route and her students after having hip surgery.
“Because I took my bus driving shirts to the hospital and told people, ‘That’s my purpose,’ … in 8 weeks I was back out here on bus 168,” instead of the 12 weeks of recovery expected, Bencivenga said.
She also had breast cancer surgery twice last summer, and when skin cancer near her eye required surgery this November, Bencivenga asked her doctor if it could wait until Christmas break – so she wouldn’t have to miss driving her bus and fulfilling her purpose.
“I just love driving the bus and seeing the scenery,” she said. “I feel like it’s something for me to look forward to.”
– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer