Four CCS bus drivers make final routes in Chilton

Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Four Chilton County Schools bus drivers completed their final routes and parked their buses following the end of the 2023-2024 school year. Eric Bailey, Ken Copen, Tina Lewis and Cindy McCraw all will be retiring from driving school buses for the school system with each one accounting for at least 19 years of service.

McCraw dedicated 29 years taking Chilton County students to and from their respective schools, followed by Tina Lewis who racked up 27 years. Lewis said her dedication to the students for years came from having the drive for it inside of her.

“I have always said it takes a special person to be a bus driver or a nurse, and I have it in my heart,” Lewis said. “I love seeing the kids in kindergarten that grow up, and now they have kids of their own that I am driving on my bus. That was awesome.”

Bailey drove buses for CCS for 25 years overall and said he thoroughly enjoyed his time spent with students over the years, seeing them grow into young adults. Copen drove for CCS for 19 years before retiring this year.

“I just enjoyed watching the kids grow from one year to another,” Bailey said. “Watching them grow, mature and develop is a blessing in itself. It has been fun.”

Bailey and Lewis both elaborated about how pleased they were throughout their bus driving careers with how efficient the bus system has been in Chilton County. It starts with the bus shop that has continued to churn out top safety scores year after year, including a running streak of four consecutive perfect safety scores conducted by the Alabama State Department of Education. Bailey said if something ever happened while he was on a route, someone was always a phone call away to come right out and assist.

“When you have that support staff that keeps the buses running, it should run smoothly. They do a great job,” Bailey said.

All of the Chilton County Schools bus drivers celebrated the end of the school year by returning their bus to the bus shop on May 23, and were served a lunch for their year of service. The four retirees were honored as part of the luncheon, and they received a plaque for their careers.