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Driving home the appreciation





Traffic is slower, and there is less of it. The routes, and her co-workers, are different.

But one thing remains the same for Mayla Moore, who earlier this month celebrated her first-year anniversary as a bus driver for Hays USD 489 -- child safety.

"Your main person to watch out for is that child," said Moore, who drives bus No. 318, a three-quarter bus, and whose main responsibility is transporting special-needs students to and from school and home.

Moore "stumbled across" the Hays job one day last year when she went to the transportation department to inquire about transportation for her daughter, Robyn Moore, who was beginning her first year at Hays Middle School.

While there, Moore found out the district was in need of more bus drivers. She was a 12-year school bus driving veteran, having worked in Texas and the Kansas City area before moving to Hays in 2012.

Moore had not planned to work in Hays when her family moved here, but that day, being around all those buses, something tugged at her.

"I really enjoy the kids," Moore said. "There isn't a one of them alike. So I decided to try it again."

It's been a good fit, Moore said.

"This is the smallest company I've ever worked for," she said, adding "it's a little more relaxed, not the high-volume traffic."

Moore, who drove a 74-passenger bus during her six-year tenure in Kansas City and a 60-passenger one in Leavenworth, has much smaller numbers in Hays.

She transports 11 students to school in the morning and takes six home in the afternoon.

"I can interact with them a little more, spend some quality time getting to know them," Moore said of her small group of students.

This week is National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, but Transportation Director Russ Henningsen said that could be each and every week of the year.

"We have a really good group here," Henningsen said. "And yes, we do really appreciate them."

Henningsen still is learning the ins and outs of the operation after coming on board as transportation director for the Hays school district in January.

But one thing he knows for sure is a small token of appreciation can go a long way.

"I'll probably get them all doughnuts this week," Henningsen said.