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Grandmother heaps praise on driver

Redwood Elementary School bus driver Brenda Welch, left, shares a laugh with Hilda White as White’s grandsons Ian Smart, 6, and Nathaniel Smart, 5, look on. White praised Welch and presented her with a certificate for her dedication as a safe, dependable and caring driver.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[12/24/01]Jack Cooper, head of transportation for the Vicksburg Warren School District, said he hadn’t seen anything like it in his 20 plus years with schools.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a parent come recognize a bus driver,” Cooper said.

Vicksburg grandmother Hilda White stood before the school board Thursday night and praised Glenda Welch, her grandchild’s bus driver, for outstanding service.

“Mrs. Welch has been the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said White, grandmother of 6-year-old Redwood student Ian Smart. “God sent her to us.”

White and Ian signed a plaque and gave it to Welch. The board also commended her work.

The school district uses 135 buses a day, transporting roughly 6,500 students to and from school, according to assistant transportation supervisor Tommy Gordon.

White cares for her two grandchildren and works at the Kings Head Start. Shuffling the children between school, home and her work is difficult. She tried to enroll Ian in Sherman Avenue this summer because it was closer to her house, but could not. Ian’s name was placed on a waiting list.

Ian began the year at Redwood Elementary. White needed him dropped off at her work, though nine miles away.

White also worried because Ian had experienced trouble on buses in the past, with other children taking off his shoes and snapping him with rubber bands.

White said Welch has been their savior, though. Welch operates a calm bus, and what’s more, she drives Ian out to the Head Start every day. She won’t leave until she is sure he is inside safely and with his grandmother.

“She makes sure the children are safe. . . thank you very much,” White told Welch.

“You’re welcome, very much,” Welch said as she received the plaque. “That’s not bad for a redneck, is it,” she said.

Welch has been driving buses in the school district for 11 years.

“She’s been very dependable,” Cooper said. “She is very caring and conscientious. I hope she stays a bus driver.”

White added that Ian has adjusted marvelously to Redwood, and is a straight-A student.

“I’m sure he’s going to do the greatest job in the world at Redwood,” superintendent Donald Oakes said.