• September 19, 2020

Longtime bus driver earns Transportation Employee of the Year - Odessa American: Education

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Longtime bus driver earns Transportation Employee of the Year

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Posted: Monday, September 14, 2020 1:06 pm

When you look at Nora Flores, there’s no doubt she’s a bus driver and there’s no question that she loves her job.

Flores has been a driver with Ector County ISD for 23 years and was recently awarded the Transportation Employee of the Year for the district.

She wears a yellow bus T-shirt, school bus earrings and sneakers. She also has her bus decked out with items the students enjoy. Originally from Marfa, after her late husband left the U.S. Army the family moved to Odessa. Flores has four children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

“I signed up for a bus monitor, but a friend of mine called me and convinced me to try for the driving. I was kind of scared, so I kind of put it off but then my husband told me go ahead and go for it and so I did and i got it,” she recalled.

“My first year was very hard on me. I came home technically crying. I didn’t think I could handle it, but my foreman convinced me. And on the following year, the second year, I got to sign up for a pre-k route so I stayed on that pre-k route for like 12 years. When my husband passed away, I signed up for a special needs bus so I’ve been at it for 10 years on the special needs bus,” Flores said.

With the restrictions due to COVID-19, Flores started with three students but was up to 10 when she was interviewed.

She said it’s a little easier to drive the special needs bus.

“I enjoyed my pre-k, but I double enjoy my special needs (students). ... I got attached to my pre-k (students), but I’m more attached to this one. They’re too lovable. They want to hug on you,” Flores said.

She added that she can’t hug them right now, but they kind of understand.

Flores cleans the buses and the vehicles are disinfected after every route. Drivers also put hand sanitizer on the students’ hands before they get on the bus and the drivers have to make sure the students are wearing their masks.

When she heard she’d been recognized, Flores said she was completely surprised.

“I even told my director I said are you sure you have the right Nora Flores and he goes you’re the only Nora Flores, so I was like totally shocked ...,” she said.

Her foreman, Sepharine Bugayong said Flores certainly was deserving of the award.

“Nora Flores is a special needs driver who always goes above and beyond for the students on her bus. She has a passion and love for all of her students. She is eager to help out and take on new tasks as needed. She has been a part of the Transportation family for 23 years. She is an exemplary and dependable employee and a joy to work with,” Bugayong said in an email.

Flores said she is appreciative of the people and the drivers who nominated her.

“And I appreciate my foreman very much. She’s a hard working woman. She’s very supportive. She was real happy that I got (the award),” Flores said.

Odessa, TX

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