Elaine Hernsberger, who colleagues describe as kind, patient, and a positive influence on the students she transports, is the 3rd Annual AMF-Bruns National Special-Needs School Bus Driver of the Year.
Hernsberger, or as her students call her Mrs. Elaine, has been driving for Hays Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) in Kyle, Texas, located southwest of Austin, for the past 15 years, 14 of which have been spent transporting students with special needs.
AMF-Bruns said in a press release that Hernsberger is known for collaborating with parents whose children are struggling during bus rides to find solutions to create a positive experience for the students, which is only one of the reasons she stood out as this year’s award recipient.
“There’s a known common-knowledge that it takes patience and kindness to be a bus driver, and Elaine overflows with both,” said Dianne Martinez, a route clerk for Hays CSID. “Elaine does more than simply drive students to their campuses, she transports children to their futures. Our educational programs, buses and more importantly our children, are all the better because of people like Elaine Hernsberger.”
Not only has Hernsberger shown exemplary dedication as a driver, she also assists with training other bus drivers and monitors on how to provide outstanding customer service. She teaches drivers about proper wheelchair securement, wheelchair lift operations, and proper child safety restraint systems installation for the students.
“Special-needs school bus drivers are the true unsung heroes in the school bus community,” said Peter Haarhuis, AMF-Bruns CEO. “They go over and beyond the call of duty helping those with the greatest needs.”
Anthony Shields, the assistant director of transportation for Hays CISD, told School Transportation News that Hernsberger is known for her kind-hearted personality which has made a positive impact on many special need’s students and their families.
“When you think of the ideal person to transport students, Mrs. Elaine is it. Her caring and sincere demeanor immediately sets you at ease and her genuine and infectious smile further lets you know she truly cares for you. One thing I constantly observe is how Mrs. Elaine treats everyone the same,” said Shields.
He added that the employees at Hays CISD were thrilled that Hernsberger won the award and agreed that it was well deserved.
“Our district is very zealous on recognizing employees who exemplify a ‘Team Hays’ mentality, someone who goes above and beyond, so to be recognized at a national level is very exciting and commendable,” Shields continued. “Mrs. Elaine is a true ‘Team Hays’ player and strives to go above and beyond in her daily duties.”
Hernsberger was presented with the award at a ceremony held by Hays CISD. Her elementary students made a congratulatory poster for Hernsberger after she received the award.
School bus monitor Alyssa Sanchez said Hernsberger greets everyone on their bus with genuine concern. “Mrs. Elaine makes in an enjoyable, happy environment to want to come to work every day. This is only my second school year working with her, and I enjoy our time together. We get to [do] what we love together and be with our kids,” added Sanchez.
“Elaine is such a positive influence on our students and our staff. The Fuentes [Elementary School] family just loves her and knows that our students are well cared for under her watchful eye. … From her greetings in the morning to the goodbyes in the afternoon, we look forward to interacting with her every day, as we know her students do too,” shared Principal Gina Butcher.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 4th annual AMF-Bruns National Special-Needs School Bus Driver of the Year Award. For more information, including criteria and application deadline, go to www.amfbrunsamerica.com/award.