Bus driver honored as Louisiana School Support Employee finalist

Published 6:39 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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EDGARD — “Tee Donna, why are you always laughing?”

It’s the most common question Donna Scott hears from the children who board her bus each morning and afternoon. She’ll give them a warm smile and respond, “I’m just glad to see you today.”

On April 19, Scott will be recognized by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as a Louisiana State finalist for Outstanding School Support Employee. Scott became one of 10 finalists from across the state after she was nominated by West St. John High School Principal Rayven Calloway.

Rounding out her first year as principal, Calloway is continuously inspired by Scott’s friendly demeanor and commitment to children. She’s deeply engrained in the school community, providing transportation to and from sporting events, tutoring and field trips. With a small population of 170 students divided between West St. John’s campus and the STEM program site across the river, Scott bridges the gap to bring the entire Ram family together.

“We have students that go to the STEM program, connected to East St. John’s building, and she always makes sure those students get picked up for all of our events. They are always included in things like pep rallies, football games and LEAP night thanks to Ms. Donna. It only happens because of her,” Calloway said.

According to Calloway, Scott’s impact goes beyond the role of a bus driver. She’s a dedicated cheerleading sponsor and a valued member of the Ram Nation.

“She makes sure those girls are involved in several activities because it’s very important for teenagers not to be idle. She ensures that our students are responsible and respectful, and she has mutual respect for teachers and staff,” Calloway said. “This school is the nucleus of the community, and she’s the bridge to the community. She supports my vision for the school, which is very important to me as a principal. If I have a grand idea I want to spring forward, she’s making it happen. We are a team.”

Scott left a career in construction 18 years ago to work more closely with children. She initially served as a bus driver on the East Bank of St. John Parish, driving for John L. Ory, East St. John, Fifth Ward and Garyville Magnet. Fifteen years ago, she began driving for the two schools on the West Bank, and she hasn’t looked back since.

According to Scott, the most important role of a bus driver is making sure children are safe as they travel to and from school and extracurricular activities. She loves seeing their smiles early in the morning, getting big hugs, and listening as they ask the most interesting questions.

One of Scott’s most memorable experiences at West St. John was driving for the track team about six years ago. She recalls that team as a fantastic group of kids who shined with talent and showed a lot of love.

When Scott first heard of the Outstanding School Support Employee recognition, she didn’t quite understand why people were congratulating her.

“I had a softball game to go to. When I got home and read it, I actually cried. I thought I was just nominated. I didn’t know I was a finalist,” Scott said. “I must be doing something right. I appreciate that Ms. Calloway thinks that much of me after knowing me for seven months. I try my best. My Mama always told me it’s nice to be nice, so that’s what I try to do.”

Calloway said employees like Scott speak volumes about the future of West St. John.

“We are small but mighty,” she said. “This is just one step to prove I have outstanding people on my team, and we are going to come back to make West St. John what it was years ago. We are going to come back to excellence as an ‘A’ school, and we are going to continue to do great things.”