“PAYING IT FORWARD”: Pammie Vandermark, left, transportation coordinator and bus driver for the Princeton Public Schools, and Transportation Supervisor Donna Bradin make sure that Princeton’s students are delivered to school every morning and brought back home safely in the afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Pammie Vandermark)
By Donald Gilpin
Pammie Vandermark found her calling about 30 years ago. She’s a school bus driver and transportation coordinator for the Princeton Public Schools (PPS), and for her and her sisters, “it’s a family affair,” she said. One of her sisters is also a bus driver for the district and the other sister is a school bus assistant who works in the cafeteria at Riverside Elementary School between bus runs.
Vandermark, a Princeton native who now lives in Ewing, described how she got started as a school bus driver. She continues to drive the buses frequently, as needed, though she has progressed from aide to driver to transportation assistant and, since 2015, transportation coordinator.
“My children had started school and I was home all day, and I needed to talk to people, and the job of bus aide fit the hours of my children being in school,” she said. “I got home just in time before my children got home, and I got benefits and health insurance for my family.”
Vandermark started work with the transportation department as an aide on a bus run with special education students. She quickly realized how important her work was to the children and their parents. “My heart went out to the families,” she said. “The first week I cried the whole week. My boss asked, ‘Are you going to make it?’ To see these children with disabilities and to see what the parents had to go through every day broke my heart.” more