Sharon Bailey is a walking advertisement for all that is great about Leeds as an excellent place to live, work, and raise a family.
She should know. Bailey knows a large number of those families, after having driven children to school for over thirty years.
“It’s awesome to see the kids grow up,” she explained. “A lot of them have come to work for me. I know them, and I know their families and I know their backgrounds.”
Bailey was joined by dozens of her colleagues for a breakfast in her honor. Joining her were co-workers, doubling as her second family. For Bailey, the last thirty years have been about her family in the Leeds City School System along with the kids she has transported, cared for, and watched grow into adults.
“I was born and raised in Leeds,” she added. “I know these families. Some things have changed, and the kids are maybe a little different than in the past, but this is still Leeds, and I’m grateful to live here and to work for the school system.
Sitting across from Bailey was Deborah Dawkins, who had come to celebrate her friend of seven years. Deborah also used the word “family” to describe the bus drivers for the Leeds City School System.
Hobdy Moorer from the Leeds City School System’s Department of Transportation led the effort to arrange the breakfast, which included a variety of biscuits from Jack’s restaurant in Leeds. “We’re proud of Sharon’s work for the Leeds City Schools and we’re glad to honor her years of service,” he added.
It was clear that her fellow bus drivers also see Sharon as family. Just to make sure things didn’t get too serious on her last day, Charles Banks spoke just like a brother would about his co-worker. “I’ve worked here for 25 years as a bus driver,” he explained. “Sharon has been on the payroll that long, but she hasn’t really worked.”
Everyone laughed. It really was just like a family.
And then there was the retirement advice.
“Have fun,” advised Glenda Davis, who has worked with Bailey for the last 25 years as a bus driver.
“Relax and have fun,” concurred Rita Ausborn, who has driven with Bailey for the last 20 years.
“Have fun, and do what you want to do. I’m not far behind you,” added Banks.
The family-type relationships were obvious, as was the fact that these people genuinely enjoy working with each other.
There was, however, another common thread in the group.
Person after person had worked for the Leeds City Schools from seven to thirty years. These people not only enjoy each other; they were grateful for the chance to work with the school system in Leeds.
The excellence in our local schools…in the classrooms, on the football field…on the wrestling mats…in the students achieving outside the classroom…extends to the school board and the outstanding people they bring to the team. That includes school bus drivers who care about the children, the community, and each other.
The entire group, at least two dozen, walked outside to pose beside Bailey’s school bus for photos for The Leeds Tribune. They chatted and joked, basically bringing the celebration outside for a bit.
They also gave a glimpse into the sense of community, the standards of excellence, and the care for their work that has made the Leeds City Schools one of Alabama’s outstanding school systems.