a community engagement initiative of Waverly Community Unit District #6
Waverly’s Director of Transportation, Angie Jennings, has watched the transformation of Waverly High School from multiple vantage points over the last decade. She’s observed, firsthand, as her four sons attended the school. Her oldest is twenty-three, her twins are twenty-one, and her youngest is a junior in high school. She also spent five years as a daily route driver before accepting a promotion to Director of Transportation, a position she’s held for the last five years. Over the last few years, Angie has noticed a positive shift in the air.
A Little Bit of Everything
“I think Waverly’s always been a good school. In the last couple of years, it’s become really good. I like the way it’s been run. Amazing things have been done here. How these kids have changed over the last couple of years is amazing,” says Angie.
Angie shares that she grew up north of Champaign, laughing as she shares that she ‘found her way to Waverly by way of a blind date.’ She says that her best friend arranged a blind date with a Waverly gentleman, grinning as she adds, ‘now he’s my husband.’
Before starting at Waverly, Angie worked several positions. She spent significant time focused on developing youth by running an in-home daycare for well over a decade and worked at Best Buy. Once her sons were old enough to attend school, she drove a bus every morning and afternoon.
While Angie still drives a route, she’s also absorbed a great deal of behind-the-scenes responsibility as the Director of Transportation. Her fleet consists of five regular-sized buses, an activity bus, a small bus, two vans, and a driver’s education car. She manages five daily workers and a couple of substitute drivers. In total, she’s responsible for ensuring all routes are covered.
But the most challenging aspect of her job isn’t managing her workforce or maintaining the fleet; it’s the logistical requirements of ensuring every route and every event has an assigned driver. Bus licenses can be difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and the hours aren’t always ideal. She shares that recruiting qualified individuals who want to break up their day by coming a couple of hours each morning and each afternoon can be a complex sale, with substitute drivers even more challenging to find and retain.
But at the end of the day, her purpose is simple. “It’s the kids. I love the kids. It’s why I’m here. I love my job,” says Angie. You set their day. You’re the first person they’ll see when they get on that bus, so you will set their day for the rest of the day. And then you’ll set the night for when they go home.”
She adds, “Some kids just need someone to talk to and be listened to. You’re not just a bus driver; you’re a mom, a nurse, a counselor, a little bit of everything.”
And while Angie’s youngest will soon graduate, Angie will continue to positively impact Waverly’s youth, often setting their days and nights with a warm smile and an interested ear.