School honors ‘lifeguard’ bus driver

ENGLEWOOD — Sue Gaston, a bus driver for Englewood Elementary School, received a Lifeguard on Duty Award from the school’s principal, Mark Grossenbacher, for doing kind deeds.

‘She noticed a kid who needed assistance,’ Grossenbacher said. ‘She had connected with the child’s foster parents and was providing healthy snacks for this child over the weekend.’

Gaston didn’t stop there. She surprised the child with gifts of a bicycle and helmet.

‘It’s just a wonderful story,’ Grossenbacher said. ‘She had it there waiting for him on the school bus when he arrived one day.’

Grossenbacher created the Lifeguard on Duty Award because he said he views his staff on campus as ‘lifeguards,’ saving kids academically or morally.

‘Sue Gaston saved one of our children by helping him,’ Grossenbacher said.

Gaston said she was honored and humbled. One of the first things she does when she wakes up in the morning is pray, she said.

‘One of my heroes is Mother Theresa,’ Gaston said. ‘She said we’re all pencils in the hand of a loving God and God wants to write a love letter to the world. That’s kind of my mission every day. I try to make (my job) more than just driving a school bus. God has always provided for me in my life and I was taught that we were blessed to be a blessing to others. So I look for that opportunity as I drive the bus.’

Ellery Girard, director of transportation for Sarasota County schools, said Gaston is a model employee.

‘Sue is very easy to work with,’ Girard said. ‘She’s a very friendly person. She gets along with everyone. She’s a little bit quiet. Ask her to do something, she always does it. If you need somebody to volunteer, she’s always quick to volunteer.’

Gaston has 10 years of experience as a bus driver.

‘I think she would rather just help and not be recognized for it,’ Girard said. ‘She never wants attention for herself. If you try to recognize her, she’ll probably turn bright red and won’t know what to say or what to do.’

Perhaps doing the job is reward enough.

‘I’d love to clone her and have four or five more of her,’ Girard said.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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