Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Teena Mitchell, manager of the Special Needs Bus Center at Waddell Road, recently received the Continuing Education Award from Thomas Built Buses. The award recognizes Mitchell’s accomplishments in school bus transportation and includes a $500 grant for continuing education courses that will help her train drivers who work with children with special needs.
Greenville County Schools transports more than 1,200 special needs students a day and employs about 250 drivers, aides and administrators.
Mitchell, who has managed the Waddell Road Bus Center for seven years, also serves as an instructor for both the state and national chapters of the Association for Pupil Transportation. As she travels around the country, she observes that other districts conduct very little training specifically with their special needs bus drivers, and knows this is an area in which she can make a significant impact.
“We have an excellent program, and I see other districts that could benefit from learning how we train our employees,” she said. “Every GCS driver goes through a week-long class to become a driver and also goes through the additional process of special needs training.”
“The more districts conduct uniform training, the better our program gets,” she explained. “If we see that the trend is going one way and yet is leaving people behind, it gives us an opportunity to get involved to change some of those strategies to benefit students.”
Mitchell was recognized in 2014 as the first person in the nation to receive the Certificate of Special Needs Transportation from the National Association of Pupil Transportation. The certification recognizes that she is highly qualified in many areas including specialized transportation skills, securing car seats, safety vests, wheel chairs, understanding the legal aspects of transporting children with disabilities, and learning about the different state and federal laws that regulate special needs.