The Beauty of Being More Than a Bus Driver1
December 2, 2022 by HCDE Communications
With a smile, Academic and Behavior School East bus driver Vanessa Ausley will tell you she’s a busy woman.
“I’m also the front desk receptionist, and I wear about nine other hats,” laughs Ausley.
ABS East Principal Donna Treviño-Jones says Ausley—HCDE’s December Employee of the Month—is one-of-a-kind.
“I was really impressed by her wanting to do more than sit around and wait for a field trip,” said Treviño-Jones. “She does so many things, and it’s because of her big heart.”
Ausley, who has been with HCDE for nearly a year and a half, stumbled into her role after discovering she had a life-threatening blood disorder.
“Before I got to HCDE, I was a safety field supervisor for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO),” said Ausley. “I was with them for 16 years.”
At the end of 2020, Ausley was diagnosed with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) and had to take a leave of absence from her job at METRO. When she returned two months later, she learned she had been replaced and was offered a more junior role. Ausley chose to pursue another path and applied for a job at HCDE.
“This is a new adventure that God has me on right now. When I interviewed for the position, I told Dr. Ned I wanted to get my foot in the door,” she said of Senior Director of Schools Charles Ned.
At HCDE, Ausley also fills in as a bus driver for Highpoint School East and Fortis Academy and is on ABS East’s safety team, even helping to develop the school’s emergency operations plan.
“Recently, he told me, ‘Well, you got your whole body in now!’ So I’m expecting to move up,” laughed Ausley.”
“I thought that when we hired Ms. Ausley, she would be serving the campuses and would always be gone,” said Principal Treviño-Jones. “But she has totally surprised us all because her role is about more than just driving the bus—it’s about relationships. When it comes to customer service, she understands that she is the face of our school and can either make or break what our school is about.”
Across HCDE, Ausley has followers who look forward to monthly bulletin boards she decorates around ABS East that tie into students’ lesson plans. The decorated walls often highlight monthly observances such as Hispanic Heritage Month or Women’s History Month.
“The decorated walls support anything that has to do with kids. That’s always a focus for Ms. Ausley. They serve as a vehicle to foster relationships with kids and teachers,” said Principal Treviño-Jones.
ABS East serves students with emotional, behavioral, and academic special needs. Students are referred to the school on a contractual basis by client school districts in greater Harris County.
“When representatives from different districts come in, they see that our school looks like a school, not an institution or a former warehouse. It’s a place of learning,” said Principal Treviño-Jones.
As a biracial Native American, Ausley says she adorns the walls and bulletin boards to educate others. She often highlights prominent individuals, innovators, and little-known cultural facts.
“These decorated walls are important because there’s a lot of diversity on this campus,” Ausley said. “Someone has to show our students the possibilities.”
Ausley says she loves the environment at HCDE and her coworkers are her family away from family. Through her dedication, she’s added value to her workplace and work family.
“She’s a beautiful person who brought beauty to our school. Miss Ausley has a creative bone I could only wish to possess—and never will. I’m like, ‘If we just paint the walls a different color, that should make it better,’” laughs Principal Treviño-Jones. “But Ms. Ausley took it to a different level. We’re moving into our beautiful new school in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to do at the new school with her.”
It is beautiful to see that Miss Ausley ‘s school recognizes her heart and her skills.