*This feature is among a series of stories that showcase the outstanding efforts of APS Transportation staff in celebration of National School Bus Safety Week.
A proud Atlanta native, Atlanta Public Schools parent, and graduate of Harper Archer High School, Rhonda Bynum is just as proud to call herself an APS bus driver.
During National School Bus Safety Week (October 19-23, 2020), Atlanta Public Schools celebrates passionate and dedicated safety heroes like Bynum, who not only transport students safely to and from school, field trips and other activities, but also reliably deliver meals and supplies throughout the community each week during the ongoing pandemic.
With 482 employees and a fleet of 402 buses, the APS Transportation Department employs 339 bus drivers and 72 bus monitors – all of whom keep students and school first – and safe – whenever they’re on the road.
For bus operators like Bynum, her love for family and children and commitment to safety helped make becoming a bus operator an ideal career.
“I became a bus driver because it was a great opportunity for my family, and because I also wanted to be present in their lives,” said Bynum, a 15-year transportation employee and mother of five who drives Route 725 at Miles Elementary School. “I really miss seeing my students every day and listening to them tell me all sorts of hilarious stories and jokes.”
Although students are now attending school virtually, Bynum is grateful for her continued role as a productive and valuable frontline worker. “It’s really been rewarding to transport food to kids by making sure we reach all of them,” she said.
During this weeklong observance, Bynum said it is especially important for the community to understand the importance of bus safety.
“Bus safety saves lives,” she said. “Parents can help out by watching their children and teaching them about how dangerous it is to play around on the school bus. It’s also important for children to be aware of their surroundings and for drivers to slow down.”