Rachel Guthrie is the special needs transportation technician at Service de transport de Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS). She has been training bus patrollers in partnership with CAA and police partners since 2012. STWDSTS has been a dedicated program partner for over 40 years and has always shown a commitment to safety in their community.
When COVID hit in 2020, the program was paused as in-person training was not possible. The pandemic brought many restrictions that made training difficult and affected resources that were no longer available.
In the spring of 2021, with so many public health and school board restrictions in place, Rachel and the busing consortium could have made the simple decision to cancel the program for the year.
However, knowing that this safety program had evolved into, in Rachel’s words, “an amazing opportunity for kids to learn leadership skills, teamwork, collaboration and responsibility”, she chose to find solutions instead.
As a result, Rachel started having conversations with CAA on how the consortium could deliver the program and training while safely following all COVID protocols. Together, they determined that the training video portion could be virtual and that the practical training could be done in-person.
Having this new format allowed the schools to show the training videos ahead of time, so that Rachel could hold the practical training sessions outdoors using a school bus. But this also meant Rachel was taking on a lot more work.
Instead of doing the annual mass training over a few days, Rachel had committed to visiting each individual county school to deliver the practical training, which meant many weeks of visiting and training patrollers.
At the end of it, she had trained over 260 patrollers in 10 schools on her own – a HUGE feat given all the COVID restrictions. It didn’t end there.
In the spring of 2022, noting that some external training partners may not return, Rachel proactively approached her management team asking about how they could deliver the program in the fall.
Realizing they needed more partners in the program to support the county patrollers, Rachel and the consortium decided to work with their five local bus operators who were very eager to participate, resulting in 20 new, enthusiastic trainers.
The innovation, collaboration and dedication that Rachel repeatedly shows has led to over 80% of the county schools returning to the program post-COVID. Between the Guelph schools and the county schools, Rachel and the consortium were able to train about 950 patrollers across 58 schools this fall!
Rachel’s commitment to the CAA School Safety Patrol in her community meant that more kids across the county can participate in a program that helps keep them safe on their way to and from school – and build leadership skills that will positively influence them in the future.
Thanks to Rachel’s passion and care for the students, she is this year’s recipient of the CAA School Safety Patrol Program Achievement Award.