A love of children prompted both Zena Lacy and Shirley Dunn to seek careers in school transportation.
Now, Lacy and Dunn's devotion has earned them honors as the Columbia County school system's Bus Driver of the Year and Bus Aide of the year, respectively.
"I think the biggest thing is I care," Lacy said. "Just the passion I have for children is probably the biggest thing."
Lacy took up bus driving 10 years ago. Before she got behind the wheel, the Evans resident worked as a paraprofessional in the school system.
The mother of three grown children, Lacy shuttles pupils of Martinez Elementary School and Evans Middle School.
"They're the biggest challenge, but their hearts are so fertile you can plant things in them that's going to stick," Lacy said of the age group she serves. "They're like sponges."
The biggest lesson Lacy hopes her pupils soak in is the notion of self-discipline.
"Either you control you, or you give someone else the power to," she said. "I don't try to control the students. I teach them how to control themselves."
After a 22-year career in retail, Dunn decided to follow a lifelong dream of working with children and became a substitute teacher.
Later, she said she found her calling as an aide to special needs students on a school bus that serves Blue Ridge Elementary, Evans Elementary, Evans Middle, Evans High and Greenbrier High.
"It makes me appreciate a whole lot of things I used to take for granted," the Appling resident said of working with special needs pupils.
"It's changed my life tremendously."
Though Dunn admits that her work can be difficult, it's not as hard as she initially thought.
"It came easy," she said. "As long as you give them respect ... they give it back. You show them kindness, they'll show it back in return."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.