Our Bus Guardian® Heroes

CalAmp has awarded each winner with a $250 gift card and has donated $1,000 to each nonprofit that was chosen by the winner.

We know that school bus drivers play an essential role in the school day of countless students.

And that many drivers go above and beyond to ensure the welfare of their student riders.

We have looked to honor the finest school bus drivers in North America, as our companies official Bus Guardian® Heroes. This is a new program in 2021 inspired by the tremendous sacrifices school bus drivers exhibited during the challenges of 2020.

You can find the full rules here, but the basics are below:

  • Bus Drivers have to be nominated by staff, teachers, principals or even parents. In short, we want the people around these drivers to nominate those who deliver exemplary service
  • No Bus Driver can nominate themselves
  • We have named 2 Bus Guardian Heroes this year with the program ending in January
  • CalAmp reserves the right to honor the comprehensive rules listed below

We appreciate the overwhelming amount of submissions we have received for this award and are excited to share with you our winners.

Our Newest Bus Guardian® Hero

School bus drivers play an essential role in the school day of countless students, but some drivers go above and beyond to ensure the welfare of their student riders. CalAmp, honors an exemplary driver, Sherry Barnes of Paradise Unified School District—the latest recipient of the Bus Guardian® Hero award.

When the pandemic struck, CalAmp and its pupil transportation subsidiary responded to the threat of the virus with the Bus Guardian® solution, which delivers accurate and timely contact tracing, driver wellness checks and hygiene verifications via a rugged, cab-based tablet and intuitive software. The Bus Guardian® Hero program was put in place to honor the finest school bus drivers in North America for their contributions to students and their communities.

Amidst a difficult return to schools during the pandemic and skyrocketing driver demand, bus drivers across the country have become true heroes, working to get children around North America back into classrooms safely. Sherry Barnes is one such hero. When many shy away when things get difficult, Sherry is inspired to dive in headfirst.

More About Sherry Barnes

On November 8th, 2018, the Camp Fire wildfire took the homes, businesses, community and, tragically for some, the lives of those living in Butte County, California. ​​The fire was one of the most deadly and devastating wildfires in California history, and also Sherry’s inspiration for becoming a bus driver. When many people simply relocated to other areas, Sherry dedicated herself to restoring a community that needed her support. Understandably, Sherry’s selfless and loving attitude perfectly equipped her for the role.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Paradise Unified School District implemented a service called Meals on Yellow Wheels, providing essential food distribution around the area. Always happy to dedicate her time for the betterment of her district, Sherry would spend several hours a day packing food and delivering it to students who rely on school meals for a balanced and healthy diet.

As a Bus Guardian® Hero winner, Sherry will receive a $250 gift card, as well as a $1,000 donation to the nonprofit of her choice, courtesy of CalAmp. For Sherry, selecting Paradise Stronger was a no brainer. Paradise Stronger is a community activation organization that played a crucial role in rebuilding the local district following the 2018 fires.

“We’ve known Sherry for several years and she always arrives with a smile and good energy,” shared Aaron Singer, founder of Paradise Stronger. “Sherry is very welcoming to new people and has an uncanny ability to strike up a warm conversation with whoever is around. Sherry is an open book. She will connect with you with sincerity and genuineness.”

“In addition to excelling at the tactical and safety aspects of her job, Sherry floods her buses with positive affirmations and has an arsenal of strategies to help keep the children occupied while she keeps them safe on the road” shared Chris Rinesmith, Sherry’s Nominator. “Her rare ability to help her students focus on the positive aspects of life is a quality that we are proud to celebrate.”

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

“In addition to excelling at the tactical and safety aspects of her job, Sherry floods her buses with positive affirmations and has an arsenal of strategies to help keep the children occupied while she keeps them safe on the road” shared Chris Rinesmith, Sherry’s Nominator. “Her rare ability to help her students focus on the positive aspects of life is a quality that we are proud to celebrate.”

Bus Guardian® allows school administrators to create instant and actionable reporting of school bus ridership for drivers and students based on contact tracing, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as essential to combating COVID-19. The solution is also equipped with a hygiene verification system to help administrators monitor and report on real-time driver sanitization efforts.

“While the CalAmp team is proud to provide a student ridership and contact tracing solution to districts across the country, our efforts would be for nothing without the hard work of the Bus Guardian Heroes like Sherry behind the wheel,” said Bill Westerman, VP of Product Management at CalAmp. “It is so important to give these individuals the credit they deserve, and we’re honored to be able to share their extraordinary stories.”

Our First Bus Guardian® Hero

All of us know a quiet professional like Tim Cribley. 

Dependable, punctual, and committed to excellence in his craft, workers like Cribley go one step further by investing in their community and working tirelessly to make the world a better place. 

The student transportation industry is blessed with an abundance of people like Cribley. Drivers and staff who rise well before dawn and work well after dark when needed to ensure students always have a safe journey to and from school and their activities. 

When the pandemic struck more than a year ago, workers like Cribley were lauded for their “essential” role in our society, shorthand for any job that maintains the most vital aspects of our society and that can’t be conducted from the safety and convenience of a remote work space. 

“We used to know kids by their smiles and voices, but now we know them by their eyes and hair and even their eyebrows since they are always masked on the bus,” Cribley said. “No matter the way, I know the name of every student on my routes and they know me personally, too.”

“I make sure they are always learning the power of good manners by simply saying “Good Morning and Good Afternoon, and that their first and last experience of their school day is a positive one.” 

CalAmp honored Cribley at an April 22, 2021 ceremony as our first-ever Bus Guardian® Hero for his work as far more than a school bus driver at Hudsonville Public Schools.

WHAT IS A Bus Guardian® HERO? 

When the pandemic struck, CalAmp responded to the threat of the virus with our Bus Guardian solution, delivering accurate and timely contact tracing, driver wellness checks and hygiene verifications via our rugged, cab-based tablet and intuitive software. 

CalAmp promoted the solution by distributing more than 3,000 COVID branded Bus Guardian masks to school bus drivers across North America. 

CalAmp Customer Success Manager, Stacey Coley, was part of the team to help distribute the masks, and noticed an immediate trend. 

“The drivers loved the Bus Guardian masks because it spoke to their mission, they truly see themselves as the guardian of the bus and student safety,” Coley said. “I thought it would be great to create a program that actually called out the best drivers who demonstrate that guardian mentality.” 

CalAmp partnered with School Transportation News to solicit nominations and promoted the Bus Guardian® Hero program via its social media platform. A massive response followed. 

After reviewing more than 900 submissions from fellow drivers, school leaders, parents and students, CalAmp named Cribley as its first ever Bus Guardian Hero for his work supporting food banks around western Michigan. 

WHAT MAKES A Bus Guardian® HERO? 

After retiring from a successful career as a lineman for AT&T where he was regularly behind the wheel of cherry picker utility trucks, Cribley took up driving the school bus five years ago to stay engaged in his community. 

Also active in his church, Cribley set up a simple table in the Hudsonville Schools bus garage where drivers and staff could donate canned and dry food. He collects the food and delivers it to smaller food pantries throughout the region. Dubbed the “Table of Giving”, the program is simple and effective and helps connect the student transportation professional to their wider community. 

When COVID struck his community, Tim stepped up to the extra work by developing and maintaining a clear seating chart and spending extra time sanitizing his bus. All while he kept the Table of Giving rolling, bringing crucial supplies to local food pantries.

“Tim isn’t the type of man to tout his accomplishments, so we’re thankful for an opportunity like this Bus Guardian Hero because it so well captures the way Tim goes about his job,” said Rob Matthews, Transportation Director, Hudsonville Public Schools. “Those of us in this industry know it’s not just about Tim, because we have so many drivers and staff who embody this same commitment to student safety and wellbeing. 

“It’s wonderful amid all of the struggle of the past year to take a moment like we have today to honor Tim and the drivers like him.” 

CalAmp awarded Cribley a $250 gift card and feted him at an informal ceremony attended by Hudsonville School District leadership as well as by leadership from Hand2Hand, a Michigan food bank that received a $1,000 donation from CalAmp thanks to Matthew’s nomination of Cribley. 

“Our community relies on the generosity and commitment of people like Tim and the drivers here at Hudsonville,” said Cheri Honderd, Executive Director, Hand2Hand. “And we’re thankful to CalAmp for making this donation that will help us do even more work like Tim does so well.” 

Bus Hero Stories

Check back for weekly stories of Bus Guardian® Heros

Redmond School District

Our driver goes above and beyond daily for our students. He transports our students that have social and emotional lagging skills and can be quite challenging. But our driver does it with empathy, dedication, and a devotion that is unmatched. He tirelessly works with...

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WSESU

She was once a student on this bus, sitting with her friends. Now, she's the driver of her friends' children; who look up to her like she's a loving aunt, friend's Mom, and (if needed) a warden at a high-security correctional facility. That was pre-pandemic. She is...

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Garrett County Public Schools

What began as a typical school bus driver-student relationship has grown into a family friendship. Our driver has safely transported our children to school and returned them home each evening. We trust him with their lives. He takes the extra minute to ensure they're...

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Manzano

My sister is finally following her dream after adopting sixteen children. The last four are all her special needs children. She bought a mini school bus, complete with seat belts to travel the United States to lend a hand where help is needed. Fill a food box, help at...

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Marion County Wv

He is not only a bus driver but a fireman. Throughout the pandemic, he showed up every day to deliver food to students on his bus run. He asks if there was anything else we needed. Not only is he a hero keeping our children safe and getting them to school but he is...

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Kuna Joint School District #3

Our driver is an outstanding school bus driver. He has only been driving a school bus for a year and a half. Prior to that, he managed a saltwater disposal plant and had a Class A driver's license as an OTR truck driver. Even though new to student transportation, our...

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Fort Osage R-1

Our transportation department consists of 4 office employees and 2 maintenance. During the month of February, our department had 18 covid 19 related absences. Including all 4 office staff and one maintenance. Our driver held down the Fort and kept not only the buses...

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Turkey-Quitaque ISD

Our transportation director, up at 5am checking icy roads in the winter and starting buses for the other drivers, taking his route plus others as needed, and volunteering as the fire chief and an EMT. He loves "his kids" on his bus as though they were his own. He...

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A Community School Corp

Our driver was the driver of a bus that was hit by a man taking off his hoodie sweatshirt traveling down a 2 lane highway and was able to keep bus from rolling down a small embankment and kept kids calm when a child lost his life during the accident.

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Carroll County Public Schools

On November 16, 2020, after dropping off her last student, our driver was traveling to her next assigned school for the afternoon dismissal. While following a special needs bus, she observed the driver veer off the roadway, coming to a sudden stop after crashing into...

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