Safety trainer Tomeka Criswell-Brooks of Houston (Texas) Independent School District has had quite a year already. Criswell-Brooks won a certificate and trophy for “Best Performance” at the Region 4 ESC Driver Trainer Academy held March 7-10 at Humble ISD. Additionally, in January she was promoted from Houston’s response team operator (RTO) to senior bus operator and trainer.
Since joining HISD in August 2009, Criswell-Brooks has steadily moved up the ranks, said Mark Swackhamer, senior manager of fleet operations.
“She started as a bus operator safely transporting students of HISD in the safest, most efficient and most caring manner. After serving in that capacity for two years, she moved into the position of RTO, which allowed her for two and a half years to provide the same attitude and effort to a wider range of students,” Swackhamer told STN. “In January, she took another step in her ladder of achievement and became a senior bus operator–trainer, where she continues to exhibit a high level of professionalism and support.”
Criswell-Brooks said the best part of working in student transportation is “being able to impact a change and provide encouragement and support to students, coworkers and the community.”
In her new position, she will be responsible for training new hires, providing behind-the-wheel instruction that is required to obtain a Class B commercial driver’s license. She will also conduct monthly safety training in-services for all current drivers, along with remedial training and post-accident retraining.
Criswell-Brooks was one of three trainers from Houston ISD — including Pamela Dotson and Dionndra DeBlaw — to attend the recent academy training, which drew 18 trainers in all from local districts.
The academy training featured classroom interaction and hands-on, behind-the-wheel training in a school bus. Criswell-Brooks successfully completed various driving maneuvers such as backing, turning and defensive driving, while also mastering pre-trip inspection training and special needs transportation skills, including proper securement and use of wheelchair lifts.