Mrs. Owens in her office. Photo by Ingrid Nilsson.
“When I started to work I wanted to do something that made a difference,” Judy Owens, Head of Transportation at Athens Academy, explained with the contagious smile she shares with everyone she encounters. Mrs. Owens strives to help children at Athens Academy stay safe, happy, and cared for on the buses. “This is something I want to do to make a difference in a lot of lives.”
Every day, Mrs. Owens takes care of the buses’ maintenance, fueling, routing, and schedules. In addition, she trains the drivers and ensures that the children get safely on and off the buses. Safety is Mrs. Owens’ number one priority at the school. To ensure safety on the buses, she always tells the students “seat to seat, and back to back”, meaning that students should at all times remain seated while the vehicle is in motion.
However, while Mrs. Owens primarily focuses on children’s physical safety, she also seeks to provide them with as much emotional support as possible. “Because we never know what’s going on in a child’s life, it’s important to always treat them courteously. I make sure that all of my drivers always greet every student.”
Mrs. Owens believes it’s important to forge personal relationships with the students who ride the buses. These students range all the way from 3-year-olds to eleventh graders. One such student is a young girl named Georgia who Mrs. Owens is particularly close to. “She looks for me every afternoon because she won’t go to the bus without me. She’ll take me by the hand and we’ll chat on the way. Then I put her on the bus, and it’s just the sweetest thing.”
In her free time, Mrs. Owens enjoys spending time with her large family. Her loving personality keeps her family close by, and her grandchildren adore visiting her, her husband, and her animals. “They love going down and feeding the rabbits and the chickens,” Mrs. Owens explained. She also enjoys going to her mother-in-law’s mountain cabin to relax.