Most of us are accustomed to driving with a kid or two in the back seat but imagine driving with 16–20 students behind you! That’s a day in the life of Bethlehem Central Schools bus driver Danika Raup and bus attendant Annette Moak, whose diligence and patience is roundly admired by their colleagues in the industry.
This week, Raup and Moak were named Bus Driver/Attendant Team of the Year by the New York Association of Pupil Transportation. The unflappable duo, also members of the Bethlehem Central United Employees Association, received the award at the NYAPT’s annual conference in Saratoga Springs.
“It was very humbling. I come to work and do my job every day and keep the kids safe, but you don’t expect to receive an award for that. I was really surprised and grateful,” said Raup.
“It is such an honor, and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment to be recognized for what I do,” said Moak. She said she was especially moved when she heard the letter their supervisor wrote to the awards committee about their work.
Moak is starting her twentieth year as a bus attendant, and nineteenth year as a noon aide for Elsmere Elementary School. Raup has been driving in the district for 13 years and has focused exclusively on doing bus runs for the district’s students with special needs for most of that time. Raup has two daughters, one of whom has special needs.
“I’ve always gravitated toward special needs runs because that’s where my heart is,” she said. “As a parent, I know we handle the biggest transition of these students’ day — the one from home to school — and I believe with all my heart that if they have a good ride to school, then we’re setting them up for success at school.”
Both are also trainers for the district’s transportation staff.
This is the first year Raup and Moak teamed up for these runs, but they say they quickly developed a rapport. “I think the key to working together is valuing each other’s opinion and experience,” said Raup.
Moak agrees. “I think we make a great team, because we listen to each other,” she said.
NYAPT presented awards to several other NYSUT members as well. The awards recognize bus drivers, monitors, technicians and aides who have shown the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to their students.
This year, the Technician of the Year award was given to Joseph Gushlaw, Sandy Creek Support Staff Association, for his efforts to keep buses at Sandy Creek Central School District safe and road ready.
James Popkin, member of the Great Neck Buildings and Grounds Supervisors Association, was named to the NYAPT Hall of Fame for his transportation leadership at Westbury United Free School District.