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Award recognizes bus drivers for their efforts

Bus drivers receive Tracey Lea Calhoun Award for their outstanding efforts

School bus drivers take pride in transporting students to and from school safely every day.  Their efforts are often rewarded with a big smile on students’ faces or a ‘thank you’ from a group of students who may not usually say much during the bus ride. 

At the end of each school year, three bus drivers are recognized as the “best of the best” in Gaston County Schools and presented with the Tracey Lea Calhoun Award.  The honor goes to school bus drivers who have made a significant contribution to school bus safety. 

The Tracey Lea Calhoun Award was created by the N.C. Petroleum Marketers Association to recognize school bus drivers statewide for their commitment to school bus safety.  The award was established in memory of Tracy Lea Calhoun, a 17-year-old who lost her life in 1980 when a school bus ran a stop sign in Raleigh and hit her car. Calhoun’s death created an awareness of the need for greater public interest in North Carolina’s school bus safety and transportation systems.

In Gaston County Schools, the award is given at each school level: elementary school, middle school, and high school.  The Tracey Lea Calhoun Award winners for the 2021-2022 school year are Darryl Gash of Sherwood Elementary School; Teresa Brooks of Cramerton Middle School; and Lamar Gardin of Highland School of Technology. 

The three outstanding bus drivers were recognized during the school district’s transportation banquet in May.  Below are some of the comments that were shared about each award recipient during the banquet.

Darryl Gash, Sherwood Elementary School
Darryl Gash has always exemplified the qualities of a caring father for the students who ride his bus.  He talks and laughs with them, jokes with them, and mentors and corrects them as needed.  

When Gash walks the halls of Sherwood Elementary, the students are drawn to him.  Teachers notice his compassion for students, and they often ask for his assistance to say an encouraging word and provide positivity.

Gash exhibits integrity and professionalism.  His colleagues know they can depend on him to do what is in the best interest of students, and they appreciate his personality, leadership, and dedication.  Every day, he goes above and beyond expectations to ensure all students arrive and leave school safely.

Teresa Brooks, Cramerton Middle School
Teresa Brooks had spent time serving as a substitute bus driver, but when a driver left Cramerton Middle, she stepped up to take over the route full-time.  This new responsibility was in addition to serving as the in-school suspension teacher.  

Taking on additional duties made her days even longer, but she did not mind.  She was doing something to benefit the school, the students, and the families who count on her to provide bus transportation.

Brooks chose the students’ needs over her own.  She ensures that her students are safe every day while they are going to and coming from school, and she has driven without an accident or situation.  The staff at Cramerton Middle School is extremely grateful for her outstanding service and dedication.

Lamar Gardin, Highland School of Technology
Lamar Gardin works tirelessly to ensure that students are transported safely to and from school in a timely manner.  He drives a total of eight hours each day, providing bus transportation for students at Highland as well as the Gaston Early College High School.

Gardin’s love for students is evident in all that he does, and he warmly greets them as they board and exit his bus each day.  He values the importance of students being picked up and dropped off as efficiently as possible, and he works with other drivers to shorten ride times and to optimize routes. 

Gardin is happy to do what is necessary to transport students, even if it means helping out at other schools.  His dedication to his job makes him a valuable employee of Gaston County Schools.