Power of Public: People who make a difference in every child’s life

Mother Rhonda Mayes, right, feels at ease putting her special-needs fifth-grader, LaDainian, on the bus with HISD driver Cynthia “C.C.” Cormier, left. HISD bus drivers safely transport more than 36,000 students to and from school every day, traveling more than 15,000,000 miles annually.

Editor’s Note: February 27 through March 3 is Texas Public Schools Week, and we are celebrating by sharing personal stories throughout HISD on how public education is helping students succeed. Tweet at us @HoustonISD and share how public education is positive force in you or your student’s life, using the hashtag #PowerofPublic.

Rhonda Mayes worries about her son LaDainian and the daily challenges facing the special-needs fifth-grader, who suffers from a disorder that often requires him to use a wheelchair and other medical, social, and emotional supports.

But when she puts LaDainian on the bus for the hourlong trip to Reynolds Elementary, Mayes can relax, knowing her son is under the watchful eye of HISD bus driver Cynthia  “C.C.” Cormier and her team.

“She’s been there since Day One,” said Mayes. “She’s got the mothering instinct, and she is just so protective of him.”

Cormier, with three kids and four grandchildren of her own, is one of HISD’s most experienced drivers, with 17 years behind the wheel. Her day starts at 5:15 a.m. when she arrives at Barnett Motor Pool to do her bus safety check, heading out by 6 a.m to pick up the first of six special-needs students.

Her route takes her to Reynolds and Foster Elementary schools. She makes the same trip in reverse each afternoon, sometimes pulling back into Barnett as late as 6 p.m.

“That’s my heart,” she said of her work. “I love it. You can’t get me out of special needs. We love our babies, and this is what we do.”

Before winter break, Cormier’s team decorated the bus for the holidays. Come spring, they’ll put up new decorations. What won’t change is the driver and her team.

“The children do better if they see the same people every day,” said Pamela Morton, a licensed vocational nurse who cares for a student with a tracheotomy.  “They don’t seem to mind if the bus changes, but they do if the faces change.”

LaDainian will start middle school next year, and his mother already is wondering how they will adjust.

“He’s used to C.C. He knows her voice,” she said. “It makes all the difference if you have a good rapport with your driver.”

Read more stories that feature the power of public education in HISD