In 1972, Karen began her school bus career on a dare from her husband after he told her she could never drive anything that big. On her 1st day driving at Ramona Unified, her director backed her out of the yard…right into a mailbox across the street.
That started an impressive legacy with a BANG.
March 1979, after attending the Instructor Academy, Karen was ready to change the world. YEAH RIGHT!!
Standing in front of her 1st in-service class, Karen could barely speak. During a break, Karen walked out to “Her bus” and staring in the mirror with steely eyed determination, told herself “I can do this”. She wiped away the tear, calmed her shaky hands and did just that.
Thus, the legend was born.
Several years later, Karen moved from Ramona to Grossmont Union and met Rose Bellew, her supervisor and lifelong friend. Together they developed a wheelchair inspection program and conducted the first hands on special needs bus evacuation drill.
A lifetime friendship formed and program that is still used to this day.
Rose retired and Karen moved to Poway Unified as their Safety & Training Supervisor. Karen started scheduling special needs students, started using EDULOG in its beta program, and found out that most car seats don’t fit in school buses.
Karen was selected to go to Sacramento to help develop the original Behind the Wheel Guide.
Now we know who to blame.
March 1997 Karen went to the dark side and became a contractor when Certified Transportation opened its doors in Escondido. Day one Karen opened the office and found an empty room. “What have I gotten myself into?” She wondered. Shortly afterwards, 2 school buses and a highway coach showed up with EVERTHING an office needs, 2 desks, 2 chairs, and 1 file cabinet. We haven’t looked back since. Starting with 2 buses, we now have 24 in our fleet.
Booking trips, scheduling drivers, and driving? Sure, why not.
In 2011, we became WESS Transportation Services.
In 2014 Karen was named School Bus Driver Instructor of the Year by the CHP.
Karen has impacted the lives of not only her student passengers, but the drivers and instructors that she has guided throughout her career.
Having worked with Karen for the past 10 years, I count her as my friend, my mentor, and the greatest resource of information a person can have.
After almost 50 years of service to our industry, Karen has decided to retire from a career that started with a DARE, A BANG, A TEAR, SHAKY HANDS, A LIFETIME FRIENDSHIP.
San Diego Instructor’s Council
2022-2023 School Year
January 11, 2023
Meeting was called to order: 10:08 am.
Introductions: 12 Members present via zoom. 7 Members present.
Introductions were made by Anita Fry.
Minutes and treasure report: As of January, we had a grand total of $189.00.
CDE report: No report. Discussed that our new consultant is Andrew Peters.
CHP report: No report
Motor carrier: No report
C.A.S.T.O: Brad Kirby was in attendance. New CASTO website is being launched. Brad will
advise on when it is live and active. Discussed meetings, the meetings are open to members not
just board members. Option of floating CASTO meetings to accommodate wide range of area
members must travel to attend meetings.
Please help boost memberships. Only $45.00 to join as an individual membership. District fee
Roadeos and workshops are open to all transportation folk’s mechanics, dispatchers, PTA, etc.…
Robert Berkstresser is offering up to 10 CASTO sponsorship/memberships.
CASTO Instructor workshops Include CDE and discuss ELDT requirements.
New Business: Merritt Whitney offering classes. Renewal day classes at the foothill’s adult
center location. Minimum 10 students. Original classes charge $150.00. The goal is a
recruitment station for districts.
Discussed the Whistle Blower curriculum and the Commercial Drivers handbook.
Old Business: Nothing added.
50/50 Raffle: No 50/50 raffle via zoom. Need to resume.
Meeting Adjourned: 11:07 am.
Our next Instructor Council will be through ZOOM or live at PUSD Transportation Building 800C.
Save the Date: February 8, 2023, at 10:00 am.
Instructors Meetings via Zoom: Wednesday 2/8/2023 at 10:00 am.
Anita Fry and Cathy Zaldivar will be inviting you to the next scheduled Zoom meeting.