Student Transportation Inc. (STI) was recognized by the non-profit organization Unique Gifted Loveable as its 2011 Company of the Year for the school bus contractor’s anti-bullying initiatives that started internally last year.
The organization, also known as “Hey U.G.L.Y.” that was founded to empower youth to be a part of the solution rather than the problem of bullying, said STI’s in-depth bullying prevention training programs for drivers established and maintained a “positive bus environment.”
“On-the-bus bullying is an area that is of grave concern to us,” explained Betty Hoeffner, co-founder and president of Hey U.G.L.Y. Hoeffner herself was a victim of school bus bullies as a youngster.
Hoeffner, who has also authored several books on bullying as well as programs to combat it in schools, explains on the organization’s website that she wanted to take one of the ugliest words in the English language and turn it into a positive.
“When we heard about Student Transportation Inc.’s work in the areas of bullying prevention and how they had in-depth training programs for their staff and anti-bullying rules and signage on their buses, we had to do something to let them know how grateful we were for the important work they are doing to keep students safe,” Hoeffner added.
Nicholas Pizzo, director of organizational development at STI, said the company was excited for its drivers to be recognized by Hey U.G.L.Y.
“This issue is important and we felt we needed to be doing more,” said Pizzo. “Our operations team has done a fantastic job raising awareness and in training our drivers to interact with kids to build trust on the bus. Our drivers encourage students to be good citizens while establishing rules and behavior expectations.
Pizzo added that anti-bullying for school bus drivers can help “restore and maintain safe, calm environments on the bus sets the stage for restoring everything in between.”