Phyllis Mayberry applied to be a cook in the Reynoldsburg City Schools. She was told there weren’t any positions open at the time. Instead, it was suggested she apply to be a bus driver. The rest, as they say, is history.
Phyllis has been driving a bus for nearly 38 years and is the longest serving employee in the District. She has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“I have a heart for what I do. I was hired as a special needs driver, and I love it so much,” she said.
Through the years, “Miss Phyllis” as she is known, has been driving Reynoldsburg students who are enrolled in school with one of our education partners for outside placements. Currently, she transports students to the Ohio State School for the Blind. Throughout her career, she has seen many students with disabilities grow up while serving as their driver.
“These students are awesome. All students are awesome, but you just get attached when you have the same child year after year,” Phyllis said. “Seeing the progress these students make brings so much joy to my heart. I have a heart for this, for the students. I really care about them.”
One of her long-time bus riders is Kynnedi Burney, who attends the Ohio State School for the Blind. Her mom, Tasherra, says Kynnedi started riding Phyllis’ bus 10 years ago as a four-year-old.
“We love Miss Phyllis! She’s like family,” Tasherra said. “She is compassionate about the kids and their well-being. She reminds me of the grandmother who takes care of the whole neighborhood. She’s such a giving person.”
Phyllis has long been an advocate that all children in Reynoldsburg be honored for their hard work both inside and outside of the classroom. She brought her idea to then-interim Superintendent Dr. Jocelyn Cosgrave.
“She felt there needed to be some kind of recognition for Reynoldsburg students who she felt were getting left out of awards and celebrations for their scholarly work at schools that are outside of our district, but that we still transport to those outside placements,” Dr. Cosgrave said.
As a result of Phyllis’ advocacy, Dr. Cosgrave received the Board of Education’s support January 17, 2023, to establish the Phyllis Mayberry Scholar Student Award to recognize those students for their accomplishments in academic or extracurricular programs. Nominations for eligible students are being accepted until March 31, with winners to be recognized during an upcoming Board of Education meeting.
Phyllis says when she heard about the award, “tears just started rolling” for what it would mean for the students, because for her, and other RCS bus drivers, it’s all about the students.
“You want that child not just to get to the school safely but you want to get that child to school safely and you want that child to feel respected, worthy and ready to learn. That’s what our drivers do,” she said.
Phyllis adds she and her fellow bus drivers get a lot of support from the RCS transportation office staff and the extra special mechanics who keep the buses in top running order.