Manassas Park Transportation News

2018/19 School Year –Issue #1 – September 2018

Photo of MPCS School Bus

Convocation Slide Show

Many thanks to the staff who generously shared their summer photos with us to include in the slideshow for convocation! Some of these are pictured below!

Head training getting some lessons from a dolphin
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2018 Inservice

The 2018-2019 In-service began with a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, muffins, coffee, juice and yogurt followed by a welcome from Patricia Hurley, Transportation Director, MPCS Superintendent Dr. Bruce McDade and Deputy Superintendent Eric Neff.

“Looking at the calendar, this is the first time in many years that we will be starting school at the same time as Prince William County and Manassas City,” said Dr. McDade. “That means, the easy ride you had in this morning, won’t be so easy next week. But the one thing that won’t change is the way you get our students safety to and from school. That never changes, and I thank you for always doing such a great job.”

Mr. Neff echoed Dr. McDade’s words and added that we are “the heartbeat” of the organization. “Without you, none of us could do our jobs.”

Dr. McDade, Mr. Neff and Patty all helped to congratulate the award recipients which included Certificates of Appreciation and Safe Driving Awards. To be eligible for a Virginia Safe Driving Award, a school bus driver must have driven at least 80% of the school year with no type of incident, accident or infraction. We only restarted this program seven years ago, so many of our drivers have many more years of safe driving than officially recognized. Statistically speaking, Manassas Park school bus drivers comprise one of the safest school bus fleets in Virginia.

Presentation by Ida Lorence, Specialist, Student Assistance Programs

“What is bullying?” asked Ida Lorence, a specialist with Student Assistance Programs. “Simply put, bullying is being mean to someone over and over again. And at Manassas Park City Schools, we don’t tolerate it.” Ida spent the next hour engaging the staff in using the Mandt model to see student crises in a different light.

“Crisis is subjective,” she said. “What may be a crisis to one person may not be a crisis to someone else.” She talked about the importance of empowering students, by encouraging them to stand up for themselves in a positive way as well as others. “We want our kids to feel like they can make a change.”

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Convocation 2018

Convocation 2018 began with a welcome from rising MPHS Senior Matilah Pamie who shared some of her experiences and insights having grown up in Manassas Park City Schools. She has been with us since the first grade.

After Matilah spoke, the MPHS Chamber Singers provided a rousing rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and we said the Pledge of Allegiance. Superintendent Dr. McDade addressed the entire MPCS Family and sought to answer three questions: Where have we been? Where are we now? And where are we going?

Rachel Kirkland, Chair of the MPCS School Board and a great supporter of Transportation, said that “regardless of your position here at MPCS, you bear the burden of education. It is not just the teacher in the classroom; it is much, much more. What seems to be the job of the classroom teacher is actually the job of many people.”

Other School Board and community officials presented important information, including growth and accreditation statistics. George Valletti, a teacher at MPE, was congratulated for spearheading the effort to land a $157,000 grant. But the highlight of the event was a visit by Nationals Right fielder Bryce Harper and his faithful father, Bryan Harper.

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Employee of the Month - May 2018

Patty selected Phan Luong as Employee of the Month for May. Candidates are selected based on attendance, performance and professionalism. Phan (pronounced either way), has been with us for almost a year. She has worked on general ed buses, SPED buses, and drove a van over the summer.

“Phan may be small in stature,” said Patty, “but she has a huge heart and many life experiences working with children. Phan is eager to learn new skills and she takes her job seriously. She is soft spoken and has a gentle touch, but she has no problem helping the students learn about the importance of safety while riding the bus. Phan doesn’t hesitate to step up when needed and sets an example of what a professional is. Phan always has a smile on her face and it is truly a pleasure to have her on my team.”

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Presentation by Anne Shaw, Head Nurse

No inservice would be complete without a presentation by Anne Shaw, Head Nurse for Manassas Park City Schools. Anne doesn’t just read what is on her powerpoint presentations; she personalizes it for us and answers “what if” questions from drivers and attendants.

Anne told us that statistically, one in six children has a food allergy, so chances are, at least one kid on your bus (and probably more) has a food allergy. And the reaction can hit within minutes up to two hours. In 2014, following the anaphylactic death of a school-age child, President Barack Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.

“We [as a society] need to minimize the use of food as an incentive,” she said. “What can you do? Control your bus. No food on the bus. Every child is gold and we must care for their safety and health.”

Before she left, Anne addressed the department and said, “You are very well thought of throughout the school system. You are a big part of the MPCS family.”

Autism Training

In 2018, the Virginia Legislature passed SB 229, “School bus personnel; training program on autism spectrum disorders,” which requires all school bus personnel to receive training on autism spectrum disorders. Not surprisingly, in Manassas Park, we were already way ahead of the game. We train our employees extensively each year on autism spectrum disorders along with many other types of disabilities and challenges that our students face, both on general ed and SPED buses. So it was no big deal that we spent some time viewing a new video about autism.

“This year during in-service, we used the autism series provided by VCU to continue to meet the needs of our students,” said Patty. “The plan is to take that knowledge that we receive through training and apply that to day-to-day experiences working with our students. My bus drivers and attendants are always looking for ways to meet the needs and to continue to provide our students the best care possible while on our buses.”

Stop Arm Program Continues to be Successful

Manassas Park City Schools is now officially in its second year of its Stop Arm Camera program. The results?

“The Stop Arm camera program has been very successful in the past year,” said Patty. “We have seen a decline in people running the bus lights. With that being said, the program continues to be a real safety resource for our students and parents. There is nothing more frightening than to see a motorist ignore and pass school bus red lights when there are students crossing. As drivers, we take the safety of our students very seriously and we are somewhat helpless when these occurrences happen. The stop arm camera program adds another layer of safety for our students.”

Last week, one of our bus attendants shared the following story with me, which underscores the ongoing need for a stop arm program and overall school bus awareness in our community:

“We were at the corner of Manassas and Cabbel,” said Felicia Brown. “We were dropping off two students. The parents were at the bus and we had to talk to one of the parents about an issue with her son. As the parents and the children turned to leave, a car came up Cabbel and turned right onto Manassas Drive between our bus, where the parents and children were still standing, and the curb.

“I was shocked at first,” she said, “and then I got angry. I wanted to run after the car! I realized that my students and their parents could have been killed right there. From their angle, they may not have seen the stop arm, but either way, it was a tight squeeze and they should not have tried to squeeze through. Just think if the parents and kids had not seen the car coming! It could have been devastating.”