Manassas Park Transportation News

2018/19 School Year –Issue #4 – December 2018

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Making a Spookticle of Ourselves

For the first time – or the first time in a long time – Transportation department employees had a costume contest for Halloween. The only parameters were: not scary. Only the bravest chose to participate and the creativity displayed in their costumes was outstanding.

Paula Tanis, Bus 12, was a prickly cactus, her costume made up on carefully inserted green pipe cleaners, tissue flowers and a pair of oven mitts. Joanne Brathwaite, Bus 7, was, of course, Queen of the Nile, not far removed from what she claims on any regular day. Ruthy Tyre, Bus 14, did a terrific impression of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act, and admitted to the rest of the staff that she was not actually, a nun, but a lounge singer on the run. Aaron Tennant, Bus 1, was Sesame Street’s Swedish Chef, in line with one of his favorite hobbies, which is cooking. Tammie Farrell, Bus 11, was a friendly witch. Other participants included Lynda Jackson, Bus 5, as Mini Mouse (very cute), Sarah Taylor, Bus 15, an Incredible driver, and Susan Casoni as a yellow Pikachu, which made her extremely popular with the third graders.

But the take-all winner this year was Transportation Director Patricia Hurley who exceeded the parameters of not scary and made herself into a flower pot. But what led her to become a flower pot?

“It really wasn’t that complicated,” she said. “I looked out the window one day at my big flower pot and said, ‘Hey, I could be a flower pot!’ I looked for material and there is was. That’s all it was.”

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Employee of the Month - October 2018

Sherin Khan was selected as Employee of the month for October 2018. Sherin does triple duty for our department: she is a Van Driver, a Bus Attendant, and Crossing Guard.

Sherin started her career with Manassas Park City Schools in March of 2017 as a Sub Attendant. She quickly stepped up and volunteered to go through the training to become a Crossing Guard.

Since then, Sherin has volunteered for many different assignments. She has been flexible moving from one position to another with a positive attitude and the desire to help the department adjust to the ever-changing needs of the students.

In January of 2018 she became a contracted Van Driver but continued to be our back-up crossing guard as needed. This school year, she moved back to the position of Bus Attendant and worked on SPED Bus 30. But as of December, she is back to driving a van.

“It is rare to find an employee as flexible as Sherin,” said Patty. “Whether I need her to drive a van, help with a special needs bus or put on her radio and work as a crossing guard, she shows a willingness to be a team player and help wherever needed. I am so pleased to have Sherin on our team.”

What is your favorite part about being a bus attendant? “Communicating with the children, seeing the smiles on their faces, seeing how happy they are.”

What about being a Van Driver? “I enjoy the independence, but also spending time with the students and going to different cities. It keeps it interesting.”

How about being a Crossing Guard? “I enjoy greeting the children when they are crossing, waving my hands, directing all of the cars and buses. There is a lot of traffic at Blooms Crossing so it requires a lot of concentration. You must be careful to make sure that all the students cross safely and that the cars understand what you are trying to tell them.”

Sherin is married and has three children, a daughter in college, a son who is a senior in high school and a son who is in 8th grade. She is originally from Bangladesh and still has family there. Her parents are still in Bangladesh and she hopes to visit them soon. Her grandfather lived to be 117. Sherin is fluent in half a dozen languages including Bengali and Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and English.

“Now I am trying to learn Spanish,” she said. “I understand a lot of it but I can’t speak a lot of it.”

New Driver Trainers

“I was excited with the number and quality of drivers who applied for the position of trainer,” said Patty. “I was so pleased and touched by the interest shown by the drivers. I think we have a dedicated team of drivers here who are top-notch. Despite the challenging conditions under which we drive, our drivers are still some of the safest in the state. I count on them – as does the entire community – to keep our students safe each day no matter how bad the traffic is, or how wet the roads are. Choosing a new trainer is never an easy task and this year was especially difficult.”

Patty ultimately selected Felix Dianderas, who has been with us since April 2015, and Aaron Tennant, who started with us in October 2015.

“I chose Felix for several reasons: his interest in growing as a driver trainer and his desire to help others. He is also bilingual which will add to our already diverse department. Felix is confident and will bring experience to the training program. His personal experience driving heavy equipment and driving in adverse weather conditions will also benefit us. Felix understands the importance of putting safety first when driving a school bus or any other vehicle. Felix’s past work as a community liaison for the Head Start program has also helped prepare him for interacting in the classroom and large group teaching.

“I believe Aaron will also be a good fit in our training department. His personality is comfortable but steady, and I believe teaching in a classroom setting or one-on-one behind the wheel will come naturally. Aaron has past supervisory experience and understands the need to be flexible while maintaining focus and schedules.

“I welcome both Aaron and Felix to our training department,” said Patty.

New CPR/First Aid Trainers

It has been a busy year as our department continues to grow due to the needs of our students. Along with selecting two new driver trainers, Patty also selected two team members to become certified instructors in CPR / First/AED through the Red Cross.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Paula Tanis and Vikki Davis to these positions,” she said.

“Paula was an easy selection,” said Patty. “She has a background in the mental health field and much of that was training staff on the techniques necessary to be successful. Paula understands the importance of finding a balance between staying on schedule and allowing ample time for discussion so each individual receives what they need to be successful.

“Vikki is currently a trainer so she has the knowledge of what is necessary to achieve success in a classroom,” said Patty. “Vikki works hard at everything she set out to achieve and isn’t afraid of a challenge. She, too, understands the importance of balancing the classroom so everyone takes away the knowledge and fundamentals that they need to pass the class.

Holiday Wrap-Up

Many thanks to Hospitality for putting together a wonderful Christmas party and to the team that decorated the bus for the Light Parade.

“The food is always great at our parties and the games are fun. It is always a good time and this year was no exception,” said one employee.

The Light parade was also a hit, thanks to the volunteers who helped put it all together.

“I thought the decorations came out good,” said Aaron Tennant, chair of the Hospitality Committee. “I want to thank Jackie, Tammie, Paula and her daughter, Ruthy and her granddaughter, Sarah, Eugene, and any others who helped out.

“Despite Paula getting left behind, the Light Parade went smoothly,” joked Aaron. “We passed out goodies to the parade watchers and wore Christmas elf pajamas, which was in line with our theme. Only one piece of the float fell off and Jackie the Elf ran down the road to retrieve it.”

A Special Thank You

Theresa Polk’s students paid Transportation a visit and left behind some delicious, homemade treats. Thank you!!!