Meet the Teacher: CCPS bus driver launching nonprofit

Diane Reese only began driving a school bus for Clark County Public Schools this school year, but her route is already taking her to bigger and better places.

Reese is originally from Cincinnati but she came to Winchester in 1991. She said she is proud to be the first graduating class from Strode Station Elementary School.

Now she is married and has four children; she’s a member of the House of God in Lexington. She’s worked as a cosmetologist and a few other odd jobs along the way before accepting the gig as a bus driver for bus 1028.

She never dreamed she would be a bus driver.

A young student on her route asked Reese that question one day: “Did you ever dream of being a bus driver?”

“Who dreams of being a bus driver?” Reese thought to herself.

Instead, Reese told the student she never dreamed of being a bus driver; instead it was a calling.

And it is the best job she’s ever had, Reese said.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than driving my students to school,” Reese said. “I enjoy my students. We have a great relationship. We have great respect and mutual respect … and I love it.”

Her job as a bus driver has inspired her to launch a nonprofit, 1028 & Me. Reese said she is still in the process of forming the nonprofit. Throughout the year, Reese said, her students talked about their fears of becoming an adult and of failing because they felt inadequately prepared for life after graduation.

Hearing their sentiments made Reese want to do more. She said God gave her the vision to start 1028 & Me, which will offer free summer shuttle services for school-age children working in the county, going to interviews or college tours in the region.

“It was the vision that God had given me for our community, from driving a school bus and listening to the kids and their concerns and them talking about their future and how they were afraid,” Reese said. “ … I just wanted to do more for them.”

Reese said she is currently searching for a handicap-accessible bus to transport riders with the hopes of being up and running by the summer.

Reese said the nonprofit will also teach students responsibility.

“[The students] are the ones who are going to have to call me to set up the appointment, their parents cannot,” Reese said.

The students are also required to receive written consent from parents to participate and must let Reese know at least two days in advance so she can plan. Reese said she hopes giving students the responsibility will teach them what it takes to navigate routine tasks that adults complete daily. Reese said she hopes students will learn about scheduling, preparedness, timeliness and more.

Reese is accepting donations to benefit the nonprofit.

Reese will talk more about 1028 & Me during the Magical World of Animation Gala preview at 6:30 p.m. at Conkwright Elementary School. The 1028 & Me launch party is free and will preview the larger benefit gala taking place at the House of God, 866 Georgetown Street, in Lexington on March 24. Both events will feature animated characters come to life such as Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, SpongeBob SquarePants, Smurfs and more. Tickets for the March 24 gala are $25 and will benefit the Sabbath School Booster. The March 24 gala will also feature two etiquette courses taught by Lexington natives Angela Holloman and RaShawn West.

Reese said she knew many students weren’t learning proper etiquette, and she thought the gala could turn the learning experience into something fun. Students also have the opportunity to learn how to fill out job applications.

Both galas will feature food and entertainment with host comedian Andre Holland.

Reese said she is excited to share more about 1028 & Me at the galas. The idea behind everything, Reese said, is ensuring students are on the road to success.

1028 & Me will ensure students in the community have access to jobs, interviews and more. Reese said many children in the community do not have access transportation because their parents may not own a car or they may not be available to transport them as needed. Some students, especially those on the north end of Winchester, Reese said, don’t have any viable working options for their age in walking distance.

Reese said she hopes to change their route — like her students changed her’s — and steer them in the right direction.

“We want to make them responsible,” Reese said. “We want to make them ready for the real world because they will be working for the real world. These are tools that they can have not only now, but later. We’re giving them hope, and we’re no longer sitting back and just listening to ‘I’m afraid of this.’

“No, we are getting ready to provide you with hope. And with that come the great men and women of Winchester.”