Brian Clarke won the 2021 Oregon School Bus Driver Trainer of the Year (Courtesy/Salem-Keizer School District)
Brian Clarke has always enjoyed helping other people learn.
When he started driving buses for the Salem-Keizer School District in 2010, Clarke knew he wanted to become a trainer. The position required one year of driving experience.
“I was interviewed the day after my one-year anniversary,” Clarke said.
With a decade on the job, Clarke was recently honored as the Oregon School Bus Driver Trainer of the Year by the Oregon Pupil Transportation Association. The organization gives seven annual awards to workers around the state who make sure students get to school.
Clarke’s supervisor, Robine Splonski, said operating a school bus requires more than simply driving the vehicle safely. Drivers have 30 hours of classroom training covering everything from inspecting their buses to supervising students and communicating with parents.
Splonki nominated Clarke for the award, citing his eagerness to mentor assistant trainers, knowledge of state and district regulations and ability to help re-train drivers who aren’t meeting expectations.
“Making it to where those drivers are able to deal with the kids and make their experience riding the bus positive ... Brian contributes to that greatly,” she said in an interview.
Clarke said he had no idea he’d been nominated until his supervisors informed him of the award.
“I like helping people, I like teaching, I like making a difference to the drivers,” he said. “It’s nice to be acknowledged for what you do.