When Roger Mike Cook reflected on being named Bryan County School’s 2020-2021 school bus driver the year for North Bryan, he had another name for the honor. “Really, I’m not the driver of the year, I’m more like the spokesman of the year for the bus driving team, because everyone here deserves it,” Cook said. “They’re all fantastic, all great with kids and they all support one another.
It’s refreshing to see a group people support one another like they do, and Mr. (Allen) Clark has put together a pretty amazing team.” Like many school bus drivers, Cook retired before he began transporting students to school. He was in management and sales before hanging it up and then after two years of retirement decided to find something to do. Driving a school bus fit the bill and included insurance, “so I decided to do it” and he hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve managed two companies, one in Savannah, one in Augusta, and at one point had more than 84 people working for me,” he said. Managing employees is not quite the same as driving a school bus full of kids
– and Cook drives routes for both Bryan County High School and Bryan County Middle School. It can be an adventure some days, which usually start around 6:45 a.m. and end around 9:15 p.m. in the morning, then run from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the afternoons.
“There ain’t nothing like driving a school bus.
Driving a bus you have to be engaged all the time, looking behind you and looking in front of you,” Cook said. “It’s like organized chaos.” Cook said that’s why teamwork is instrumental, and he called his co-workers “absolutely off the chain,” then listed half a dozen or more – from last year’s winner, Lynn Keen, to Darlene Roberts and Pam Griffin and Raime Stewart, and from Emeral “Emory” Rawls, and Keith Moultrie and Penny Foxworth to Tammy York and Deborah Hoskins. Each, Cook said, played an important role in his development as a driver and in the success of the team as a whole.
“Mr. Clark put together a pretty amazing team,” he said.
And while part of Cook’s advice to an aspiring driver is to stay focused and get to know the kids, and let them get to know you, the bigger part of his is to do what he did and learn from those who’ve been around the block a time or two.
“Listen to your co-workers,” Cook said. “Whatever you’ve done, they’ve probably been through it and can coach you through it. These people are not slouches at what they do.
They’re great role models.
And if you’re working for Mr. Clark, you’re working for one of the best ever.
Listen to what he has to say. I just can’t say enough good about this team up here.”
That’s why, he said, he’s not really the bus driver of the year.
“I was selected this year, but everybody contributed,” Cook said. “I’m just a spokesperson.”
When South Bryan County Transportation Director Dr. Allen Cox announced the South Bryan County School Bus Driver of the Year for the 2020-2020 school year, the information he provided basically served as the entire story.
Here’s what Cox sent: “Mrs. Tonya Gorlesky is our Bryan County School District School Bus Driver of The Year (2020-2021) for South Bryan/Richmond Hill area.
“Mrs. Gorlesky was selected by her colleagues for this annual award. Mrs.
Gorlesky has been driving a school bus for BCSD for over 10 years. Mrs.
Gorlesky has been driving bus #1410 for several years now.
“She drives a Frances Meeks Elementary School route that services Dunham Marsh Subdivision, a Richmond Hill Middle School route that services The Cove, Sterling Woods, and Creekside, and she drives a TRI bus routes that services Richmond Hill Plantation.
“She goes above and beyond meeting the needs of ‘her’ children while transporting them on the school bus.
Cox’s announcement continued: “She is very conscientious about the safety of “her” students and she is always offering assistance to improve various aspects of the bus driver’s daily responsibilities. She is also adamant about making her bus routes more efficient and transporting students in a timely manner.
“Mrs. “Tonya”, her husband Kenny, and daughter Kaleigh, love Jesus Christ and attending, worshipping, and ministering at COMPASSION Christian Church.”