Lots of laughter was heard from Brewster schools’ transportation hub last week as bus drivers, monitors, mechanics, dispatchers, administrators and more gathered outside for a Transportation Appreciation breakfast. Some tears of gratitude were shed as well, as parents thanked a driver for saving students’ lives.
“Every parent has a right to put their child on the bus and feel comfortable and confident that they’re getting a safe ride to school,” Supervisor of Transportation Mary Smith said to the crowd. “All of you provide that confidence by being the best at what you do, by giving the extra mile of care and, most importantly, practicing safe behaviors every day. Brewster school bus drivers, monitors, mechanics, driver mechanics, driver maintenance, dispatchers, and operations assistants are all examples of excellence in transportation.”
Parents Kim Parrottino and Mayra Leiva were at the celebration to express their gratitude to transportation staff and to shine a spotlight on the actions of bus driver Elke Reimann, who is credited with saving the lives of three Brewster students.
Lilliana Boniello, Elmer Acevedo Leiva, and Emely Guzman Ramirez were getting off the bus on Route 22 last October when a driver ignored the bus’ stop sign and passed it on the right side — the same side where students exit the bus. Parrottino, who was there when the incident happened, addressed the group before she and Leiva gave Reimann bouquets of flowers.
“I had to sit down on my knees and just be so thankful for the fact that Elke stopped our children from stepping off that bus,” Parrottino remembered, breaking down in tears. “I thank her every day.”
Parrottino went on to say that she wants Reimann to drive her kids until they graduate from Brewster High School. The experience has left her looking to get involved with Operation Safe Stop, a cooperative school bus safety project.
“I just want to be part of the solution,” she said. “If I see something unsafe, I’ll report it, but I also want to reward someone who is doing a good job.”
Humble and shy, Reimann did not address the crowd, but thanked the women for the flowers and kind words.
“Elke’s done a great job,” said Smith, “just like all of you do every day.”
In addition to breakfast and heaps of praise, the transportation department was also treated to an appearance by JFK’s ENL students who came with kindness rocks to show how much Brewster students appreciate the work they do each day.