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Transportation Team Members Celebrated for Contributions

The District 49 workforce is a true example of the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Employees in a variety of roles are essential and contribute in countless ways to the success of students. D49 leaders and the board of education celebrated six of these team members from the transportation department during Fantastic 49 festivities April 8 for their contributions to the D49 community.

Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, congratulates Yolanda Baird after the April 8 Fantastic 49 presentation.

The event kicked off by honoring Jim Coker, bus driver, and Felicia Waggoner, dispatcher, for their teamwork in locating a missing student after school. They quickly jumped into action to find the young learner and transport him safely back to school. “These two exemplary employees are a prime example of commitment to our student’s safety and to the service of our community,” shared Jack Pietraallo, director of transportation. “There is no quit in them when it comes to supporting our students.”

Yolanda Baird, bus driver, was celebrated for her knack in building relationships with students. “Yolanda follows many aspects of our cultural compass, but innovation, respect, care and trust are highlighted by her,” said Lynnea Brown, transportation personnel manager. “Parents and students love and appreciate her diligent work effort and positive attitude.”

The department’s trainer, Tonya Schroeder, received kudos for developing online learning opportunities to train existing bus drivers and those new to the team. “Tonya created multiple Google Classrooms that improved the training environment immensely,” stated Patty Mize, transportation training supervisor. “Every day she continues to show her dedication and teamwork within the department.”

Kim Sherman, bus paraprofessional, attends the April 8 Fantastic 49 celebration to receive accolades.

Rounding out accolades was Paula Pratt, bus driver, and Kim Sherman, bus paraprofessional. The two were acknowledged by Rebekah Stuart, parent, who wrote an email to the transportation director to express appreciation for their kindness in helping find her son’s missing support dog. “I have never seen staff care more about a kid and his dog … it brought our whole family to tears to see how much our son is cared for,” Pietraallo shared from the email. “I have to say they make all of our days happier. We are so grateful for the hearts of the staff.” 

Board of Education President John Graham wrapped up the presentation with gratitude for the entire D49 workforce family. “All of our employees are star employees always going the extra mile to take care of our students … Thank you to those here, and thank you to those across the whole district who always go above and beyond to keep our kids safe and in a positive learning environment.”

Fantastic 49 is the district’s recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students and community members before each regular board of education meeting.

Tonya Schroeder receives an award at the April 8 Fantastic 49 celebration. .  Jim Coker is honored at the Fantastic 49 presentation April 8. .  Paula Pratt receives accolades during Fantastic 49 festivities April 8.

Amy Matisek