A Rockford bus driver has been named Michigan’s Education Support Staff Professional of the Year for 2019 as part of the Michigan Department of Education’s ongoing effort to highlight individuals who go above and beyond for their schools.
Russ Clark, a bus driver for Rockford Public Schools, is known for his Wednesday treats and for giving students gifts on their birthday. He also funds and puts together holiday treat bags and sends get-well cards to ill students.
“Congratulations to Mr. Clark on receiving this award,” said State Superintendent Michael Rice in a statement. “We thank him for making each of his students know that they are important and valued.”
The annual award also comes with a check of $1,000.
The awardee for Education Support Staff Professional of the Year is selected from more than 250 nominations. Eligible roles include teacher’s aides, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and lunchroom monitors, as well as bus drivers, electricians, janitors and security workers.
Clark worked for General Motors for 32 years before driving school buses. He has worked for the school district for eight years and transports primary and secondary special needs students.
The announcement from the MDE described Clark as an “exemplary teammate” whose “concern for his school community goes beyond ensuring that all his students have a positive experience.” He regularly checks in with school staff before starting his routes and often offers to help in the bus garage.
“Working together, it takes an entire school community to help our children achieve their full potential,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice. “We are so grateful that Russ Clark and thousands of other dedicated education support staff professionals across Michigan work tirelessly each day to meet the needs of our students.”
The Michigan Department of Education partnered with AFSCME Council 25, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan and the Michigan Education Association to offer the award.