When asked what she’s seen change over her years of service, Willis replied, “Everything. We have nicer schools, better teachers; it’s been fantastic.”
She said while she’s always enjoyed her route, having more modern buses that include amenities like air conditioning have made the job more comfortable.
“We have cameras now, so that helps,” Willis said, laughing. “But the kids have always been pretty good.”
Willis said the most rewarding aspect of serving as a school bus driver has been working with children.
“It’s not hard to [have favorites] when you spend a lot of time with them,” she said.
In her retirement, Willis said she plans to spend time at home with her grandchildren.
Superintendent John Harper addressed the crowd, who were served a lunch by Grand Oaks. The event was sponsored by Georgia Bank & Trust.
“It’s an honor for me today to stand before you and say ‘congratulations’ to you,” Harper said. “I still have two boys in college so I’d like to be where you are right now, but those bills keep coming and they will for a while. As your superintendent, I’d like to tell you personally thank you for your service to the Bartow County School System and the children in our school system.
“You are the backbone and the heartbeat of what we do ... you are our core business, you are what we’re all about and often times people forget that. Teaching children day in and day out, along with all the things that have been added to your plate for so many years, ... let me again say thank you for all you do.”