26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger swears in the Upshur BOE's newest member, Daya Wright, at the Oct. 11 BOE meeting. / Photos by Beth Christian Broschart

Upshur Schools spotlights bus driver who went the extra mile for a student in need; new BOE member sworn in

FRENCH CREEK – Upshur County Board of Education members officially ‘closed the gap’ Tuesday during their meeting at French Creek Elementary School with the swearing-in of newly appointed BOE member Daya Wright.

The ceremony was headed by Upshur County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger.

Wright, one of five candidates to present the BOE with a letter of interest, was selected to fill the unexpired term of BOE member Patrick Long, who resigned from the BOE on Sept. 1, 2022, stating his resignation was due to family obligations requiring his attention. Wright was selected during a special meeting Oct. 7.

Following the swearing-in, Wright took her place among the Upshur County Board of Education members. Upshur County BOE offered a welcome to Wright. Also, during Tuesday’s meeting. BOE members and those attending met school bus driver Amanda Swift, who was introduced by Upshur County Schools Transportation Supervisor Stephanie Bennett. She said Upshur County Schools believes in the value of its bus drivers who keep students safe and happy.

“A great school bus driver feels a great sense of pride in their job,” Bennett said. “They are the biggest factor in the kids getting to and from school safely and will be proud of that fact. Driving a school bus is much different than driving your car – they drive the bus as if their own kids and grandkids are in the back.”

Bennett said being a school bus driver is much more than just picking up children and driving them to school.

“Many times, the driver sets the students’ tone for the day, and so it is important that students are greeted with a warm smile and pleasant attitude,” Bennett said. “A school bus driver is able to balance driving the bus while making sure the kids are not acting out. It takes quite a bit of patience and skill, pride in their job and being calm under pressure. Bus drivers enjoy driving, are patient with kids, and [a bus driver] is a people person who values safety.”

Bennett recognized Swift for going over and beyond her duties as a school bus driver.

“When a family was not at the bus stop one evening to pick up their child, Amanda continued on her route, delivering all of her students,” Bennett said. “Swift went back to Rock Cave School and waited for the family to arrive for their students. She made sure all of her students were safe before departing to be with her own family.”

Upshur County Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Harrison said Swift was with the child for about two hours. Harrison said Swift never once indicated she was frustrated or upset.

“Her only concern was to make sure that child arrived safely back into the care of her parents,” Harrison said. “That is the kind of employees we have in Upshur County Schools – students come first.”

Swift received a round of applause while being presented an Upshur Star for her actions.

Next, Rock Cave Elementary School Principal Lynette Ryan and pre-K instructor Jill Stemple introduced students who had artwork included in the Arts Alive exhibit in Charleston, West Virginia. Those students recognized include Clinton Anderson-Jones, Brantley Gainer, Noah Talbott, Sylas Bickel and Lillian Loudin. Each student received an Upshur Star for the hard work put into their entries that were on display.

Clinton’s artwork was titled, ‘The Sun and Dark Sky.’ Sylas had a piece called ‘Bright as an Open Door,’ and Brantley had pieces called ‘Potato Masher Print’ and ‘History of Colors.’ Noah’s art was titled ‘Mammoth in Snow,’ and Lillian’s art was one she created after attending the Irish Spring Festival.

Finally, French Creek Elementary School principal Quentin Oldaker introduced fifth-grade teacher Rena Zirkle who nominated three of her students for Upshur Stars. She introduced Lydia Tenney and Caleb Hamner for having no absences so far during the school year. Zirkle also recognized Savannah McCartney for mastering her multiplication facts up to 12 times 12.

Zirkle said Savannah completed the task of learning her multiplication tables in less than one month.

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