District Honors Bus Drivers for High Standards and Dedication

April 22, 2024

When the San Lorenzo Unified School District Board voted to observe School Bus Driver’s Day on April 23, 2024, driver Felicia Joiner was just the kind of person they intended to recognize and thank.

Joiner, one of SLZUSD’s seven current full-time drivers, has made a career of getting students safely from point A to point B – more than two years with San Lorenzo and 12 previous years with the Hayward district.

“I love driving buses,” Joiner said. “I love the kids. I love the conversation that the kids give me, whether they’re in kindergarten or they’re in college.”

Students regularly seek her advice on circumstances in their lives, and she said they also generally respond well when she addresses occasional misbehavior by reminding them of the respect they would want for members of their own family.

Those are just some of the many important qualities the School Board sought to highlight with their unanimous vote on March 19 to formally declare School Bus Driver’s Day, a day designated by the California Association of Transportation Officials.

As Resolution No. 3806 states, among other points, “The safety of our children rests in the hands of school bus drivers for up to six or seven hours each school day, … [and] school bus drivers exhibit patience and kindness toward students, parents, and school staff in performance of their duties.”

SLZUSD Transportation Supervisor Christina Carnacer, a veteran bus driver who began her position in August 2023, said the district’s bus operations are much better staffed than they have been in some time, with a goal of further hiring.

Carnacer said the biggest job perk for most drivers is the opportunity to work with children, along with outstanding benefits and a schedule that includes days off on school district holidays, an early start and a midday break, while still being full-time.

The district’s bus drivers also work well together as a team, she said.

“When I talk to people about job opportunities, I really emphasize those things: loving kids, a tight-knit workplace family and the benefits of working for a school district,” Carnacer said. “You won’t find a lot of places with a pension.”

When they’re not behind the wheel, drivers make sure their buses are in good working order and also keep them clean inside and out.

Joiner, who primarily transports students to and from classes at the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program (EAROP) in Hayward, said the responsibility for safely transporting students leads her to drive very defensively.

That mindset is reinforced by regular driver recertification requirements, including in first aid.

“You’ve got to expect that this other [driver] is not going to do what they’re supposed to do – be prepared,” she said.