The week of Feb. 10-14 is North Carolina’s School Bus Driver Appreciation Week (or “Love the Bus” Week), and each day one of our dedicated drivers will be introduced to the HCPS family.
When it comes to serving students, Patricia Bentley is all in.
Drive them to school? Check. Prepare their nutritious food? Check. Serve those meals in school and even over the summer? Check and check.
Bentley began driving a school bus for Dana Elementary in 2002, when she made the decision to quit her job at General Electric to spend more time with her young children. Soon enough, her own kids were riding in her school bus’ seats, and Bentley took on another role in the district: nutrition staff member at North Henderson High.
Now, she’s a Knight through and through, driving morning and afternoon bus routes for North, serving in the cafeteria at North and Apple Valley Middle, and – now that “Second Chance Breakfast” carts are in both schools – rolling “NASCAR Cart 3” into position for the post-1st period breakfast rush.
So Bentley’s weekday mornings start with her 5:50 – 8 a.m. bus route, followed by a break at home for an hour, before returning to North at 9 a.m. to begin her shift in the cafeteria.
In the cafeteria, she’s preparing meals, helping students in the service line, counting inventory, and recording Child Nutrition data until about 2 p.m., when she takes another quick break before driving her afternoon bus route.
Not only all that, says Child Nutrition Supervisor Amanda Jones, “She also works the Summer Food Service Program in the summer.”
Jones says, “Trish is always willing to give an extra hand when needed,” which also means pitching in as the self-proclaimed “relief driver” for the Meals On the Bus mobile feeding site in the summer months.
Apple Valley’s principal, Peggy Marshall, says Bentley “looks out for students,” and Jones adds that Bentley knows every student by name, knows who their siblings in school are, and makes sure they’re each cared for. Sometimes, that even means alerting their teachers to a student’s specific need – like money for lunch on a field trip.
“Ms. Trish has, on a couple of occasions, contacted me because of her concern for specific riders on her bus that she knew were in my class,” says Alicia Lyda, social studies teacher at Apple Valley.
“She knew there was an issue and wanted me to be aware so I could check on the child during the day,” says Lyda. “How awesome it is to know that her riders are cared for from the time they get on the bus to the time they are delivered safely to their homes.”