Gary Gillespie is a handy man with a plan.
Originally in the engineering field, Gillespie, came to Hendersonville six years ago after a power plant he’d worked for shut down. The opportunity to become a bus driver just appeared to him, and he’s been driving for Henderson County Public Schools ever since.
“Happened to see the sign one day and thought, ‘Hey i’ll give it a try,’” he said.
And now, he’s hooked on Fletcher Elementary.
Fletcher has always been his home school, and he began working as a custodian there two years ago, helping keep the halls safe and clean for the students.
Gillespie watches out for safety both in the school and in the bus. He has a few rules and tools to make sure the students get to school and home safely. His students know Gillespie doesn’t start moving the bus until everyone is in their seats.
In addition to keeping students safe, Gillespie jokes around with them. With a last name like Gillespie, he said, some students trip their tongues over it – so lets the students call him Pop. Elementary school students use their wild imaginations to transform Gillespie’s moniker – into nicknames like “POPcorn” and “POPsicle.”
“I try to encourage the kids to always keep learning; we all have different styles of learning but keep learning,” he said.
Gillespie cares for his young bus riders so deeply partially, “Because I’m a grandpa,” he said.
“I tell them old fishing stories,” he said. “I tell them I’m 500 years old. That makes them wonder.”
– By Alex Ramirez, Early College
Public Information Office Intern, HCPS