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.
Coach Tim Fendley started his teaching career planning on driving a school bus wherever he taught, thanks to some job hunting advice his colleagues and mentors gave him in undergrad.
As Fendley was preparing to graduate with his teaching degree and certification from Western Carolina University in 2007, “People told me to say I was willing to drive a bus when I was being interviewed.”
Shortly after, Fendley landed a job teaching Physical Education and driving a school bus at Atkinson Elementary, where he spent his first seven years serving HCPS. Now, Fendley’s in his sixth year teaching P.E. and driving school buses at Mills River Elementary.
“He is kind, compassionate, witty, and loves each and every child he comes in contact with every day,” says Fendley’s proud big sister, Laura Thomas. “I’ve heard from multiple parents and kids over the years, they love him as much as he loves them. He’s always making their classes fun.”
Fendley says he strives to build positive, caring relationships with his students during class – and their connection to Fendley as a teacher makes for happy, seamless transitions from the classroom to the school bus.
“It’s unique because I know every kid personally just from teaching them in the gym,” Fendley says. “I hold them accountable in the gym and go by the same guidelines on the bus.”
He also leads by example, modeling the same discipline he requires of his students in his own life.
Currently, that means balancing driving, teaching, and maintaining important family time with studying, as Fendley is in his last graduate semester at WCU working toward his Masters of School Administration.
“He has put himself through school again and, even after long work days and bus routes, continues to reach above and beyond what is expected of him – and gets straight A’s,” says Thomas.
“I put family first and make them my priority,” Fendley says. “Graduate studies are completed at night when the kids are in bed.”
Then in the mornings, Fendley is driving his first route for Mills River before, “I come back and jump right in with car rider line, teach six classes and drive again,” he says.
It’s a busy schedule, but Fendley values the extra time he gets with his students on the bus.
“People think I’m crazy for liking to drive a bus but I love it,” he says. “It’s fun to be the first person picking (my students) up.”