Bus driver Leslie Williams’ strong work ethic shines

CMS is celebrating Love the Bus Week Feb. 13-17. Love the Bus is the American School Bus Council's annual campaign to raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers who safely transport children to and from school.

Leslie Williams has one simple reason for being a bus driver: "It's in my blood."​

Williams, a native of Jacksonville, N.C., grew up with a mother and several aunts who drove school buses. "I learned very early on the importance of working hard," she said.

She started driving buses while still in high school. Her brother moved to Charlotte to attend Johnson C. Smith University and she followed. After working in retail, she returned to her bus driving. "I am not sure why I tried to do anything else," she said. "This is what I was meant to do."

She starts her route at the Orr Road Transportation Center at 4:40 a.m. She drives routes for Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Westerly Hills, Tuckaseegee and David Cox elementary schools. "I love what I do," said Williams. "I take getting the kids to school very seriously. And I enjoy getting to know them."

Williams' supervisor, Lemuel Roberts, said her passion for the work is evident. "Leslie is the type of driver who calls me when she finishes early and asks if she can help someone else," he said. "She's handled last-minute field trips. I don't think she's ever said no."

With an average of 25 students on board for each trip, Williams takes safety very seriously. "I am a big talker, so I am always talking to my kids and reminding them of what we need to do to stay safe. If I see an accident somewhere, I point it out and remind them that we need to do what we can to avoid something like that."

Roberts said Williams is known for her perfect attendance and working to bring her fellow drivers together. "She's not just here for a paycheck," he said. "She comes to me about things we can do to bring the drivers together, puts together our Christmas party. She's always got ideas to make this a better place to work."

Roberts also gave Williams the ultimate compliment. "I have a son in CMS," he said. "And I would feel comfortable with Leslie being his driver."