Darlington County bus driver, student achievements lauded
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Darlington County School District school bus driver Bernadine Reed barely finished her afternoon route Monday in time to make it to a Darlington County Board of Education meeting to receive accolades and thanks from district officials, board member s and members of the public for her actions to protect her students following a January bus accident.
Reed was transporting 40 students to Cain Elementary School and Brunson-Dargan Elementary School in Darlington on the morning of Jan. 22 and had stopped her bus at a railroad crossing, as required, when a car hit her bus from behind and caught fire.
Reed acted quickly to get the children off the bus. She managed to get all 40 students off uninjured before the fire spread to the bus.
The driver of the car was taken to a local hospital and later charged with driving too fast for conditions.
Firefighters from the Palmetto Rural Fire Department responded to the accident and put the fire out.
During Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent Tim Newman noted that, as it happened, Monday was the start of School Bus Driver Appreciation Week in South Carolina.
Newman presented Reed with a plaque recognizing for her actions that day. Newman cited Reed’s “calm attitude, quick thinking and heroic efforts” to get her students to safety.
He also read and presented Reed with a letter from state Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, chairman of the Senate Education Committee thanking Reed for her efforts to protect her students.
At the time of the accident, Reed had been driving for the district for 45 days. That was her total time as a school bus driver at the time, she said. Reed, who lives in Darlington, said she previously worked with special needs children in Maryland.
“Ms. Reed, we are so proud of you and how you have represented Darlington County in saving our children,” board Chairman Warren Jeffords said. Jeffords noted that Reed’s actions have received national as well as local and state media attention.
The board, district officials and members of the public in the audience gave Reed a standing ovation.
“We celebrate all of our bus drivers,” Newman said.
He said that for children who ride a bus to school, the bus driver is the first school district person they see in the morning as they board the bus and the last they see as they get off the bus.
The Darlington County School District employs 110 bus drivers operating 90 buses every school day, Newman said. They transport approximately 60 percent of the nearly 10,000 students who attend public schools in the district, he said.
In the days after the accident, Reed said she does not see herself as a hero.
“I don’t see it that way,” she said. “I was just a mother who had to get those 40 kids off of that bus to safety.”
In other business, the board also recognized several district students for accomplishments.
Two Hartsville High School students were recognized by the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports as Players of the Year. Emma Charles was selected as the 2018 Class AAAA Golf Player of the Year and Larissa Berger was chosen as the 2018 Class AAAA Tennis Player of the Year.
Four student athletes were chosen to participate in the South Carolina High School League’s North-South All-Star Competition. Jac’Quez Lucas of Lamar High School and Tiyon Evans of Hartsville High were chosen to play in the 2018 Touchstone Energy Cooperative Bowl North-South Football Game.
Larissa Berger of Hartsville High was chosen to be a part of the 2018 North-South Women’s Tennis Team. And Emma Charles of Hartsville High was chosen to be a part of the 2018 North-South Women’s Golf Team.
Five student athletes from the Lamar High School football team, two of whom attend Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology, were named to the 2018 South Carolina Football Coaches Association Class A All-State Football Team. The Silver Foxes chosen for the honor were Kegan Sparks, Lucas, Malik Johnson, Jordan Green (Mayo) and Shane Amerson (Mayo). Students who attend Mayo are allowed to play on sports teams of their sending schools.
Evans was named the 2018 South Carolina Football Coaches Association Offensive Back if the Year.
The district had several competition winners at the recent South Carolina Junior Beta Club Convention in Myrtle Beach. District students won first place in two competitions.
Hartsville Middle School won first place in the Living Literature competition. Team members are Clay Bird, Ryan Watford, Ethan Leonard, Sarah Cate Henderson, Audrey Krawiec, Graves Bryan, Haley Banister, Michael Rudick and Emma Thompsen. Davaris Lambert of West Hartsville Elementary School won first place in the speech competition.