Beaufort’s 2018 Bus Driver of the Year recognized at state level

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A 33-year driving veteran, honored last month as the Beaufort County School District’s 2018 Bus Driver of the Year, was announced Tuesday as the 2018 South Carolina Beaufort County School District’s 2018 Bus Driver of the Year.

The award was presented to Juliette Washington by the South Carolina Association for Pupil Transportation during an awards luncheon at the organization’s annual conference.

“This is unbelievable,” Washington said. “I never thought that little old me would receive an honor like this.”

Nominations were solicited from all South Carolina school districts for “drivers who performed in an exemplary manner to provide safe, effective and efficient transportation throughout the school year.”  Candidates were screened and the winner selected by the SCAPT Board of Directors.

Washington – affectionately known by her student riders and colleagues as “Miss Judy” – transports students who attend Broad River Elementary School and Battery Creek High School.

Even after 33 years behind the wheel, she still loves her job.

“It’s special every day – getting up early in the morning, making my first stop and seeing my ‘cargo’ board the bus.  Seeing all of these little kids.  They keep me young.”

Area Supervisor Tori Mitchell said Washington typically arrives for work around 5:15 a.m. and immediately checks with dispatchers to see if there are any routing problems for that morning where she can help out.  When Washington completes here afternoon routes, Mitchell said, she always double-checks to see if assistance is needed in other areas.

In addition to her daily route responsibilities, Washington also trains new drivers and is working to become a certified third-party tester for drivers seeking their state Commercial Driver’s Licenses.

“Awesome is the word that comes to mind,” Mitchell said.  “No matter what you ask of her, the answer is always yes – and always with a smile on her face.”

Superintendent Jeff Moss said Washington’s selection honors the entire school district.

“We were already proud of Ms. Washington for being named Beaufort County’s driver of the year,” Moss said.  “To have her honored at the state level is truly outstanding.  She’s a shining example of how school bus drivers should perform their vitally important roles.”

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