AHPS Bus Driver Crowned Champion

AHPS Bus Driver Crowned Champion
Posted on 05/01/2024

Ratliff will now represent AHPS in state-level competition during the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation conference in June. He was named the vision winner for AHPS during regional Bus Road-E-O competition held April 27 at Hidden Valley Middle School in Roanoke County. 

The regional competition featured bus drivers from school divisions in Virginia Superintendents Region VI. Drivers from participating school divisions were named division champions. Ratliff was named the AHPS winner in the conventional driving category. During the Road-E-O, drivers demonstrated their skills in multiple events performed in different categories. The competition is designed to show how vital bus drivers and their skills are.

“We congratulate Frankie for being the AHPS winner. He is doing a great job of representing the skills that our bus drivers bring to the job every day. We know that Frankie will represent our division well at the state-level competition this summer, and I would not be surprised to see him bring an award home with him,” said Eric Tyree, AHPS Director of Maintenance and Transportation. 

Ratliff, a native of the Alleghany Highlands, originally worked for Alleghany County Public Schools. He became an AHPS driver in 2022 when Alleghany County Public Schools merged with Covington City Public Schools and Jackson River Technical Center.

“I like bus driving. It makes me comfortable,” said Ratliff, who joined the U.S. military after graduating from high school.

“I don’t have any kids of my own, and driving the kids gives me a chance to absorb their energy. Being around the kids gives me that feeling of having energy to burn, really,” he said. 

Ratliff attended Sharon Elementary School, and he graduated from Alleghany HIgh School. After attending Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (now Mountain Gateway Community College), he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became an aircraft electrician. After an injury cut his military career short, he drove buses at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

After returning to the Highlands, Ratliff underwent training to become certified as a school bus driver. Working for the local school division has allowed him to supplement his income and continue to put his driving skills to use.

“Driving a school bus was basically a good fit for me. I went through the program here and got my CDL. I was approved by the school board, and I have been going strong ever since,” Ratliff said.  

The Bus Driver Road-E-O competition in Virginia not only allows drivers to showcase their skills, it also tests their safety knowledge. Ratliff received an impressive perfect score on a written test that measures a driver’s knowledge of Virginia laws and regulations regarding bus transportation.

Events that challenged a driver’s skill level included navigating obstacle courses and performing precise maneuvers from behind the wheel of a school bus.

“It was difficult, but in order to accomplish what I did was basically drive like we do here every day. Driving in the mountains and through other places behind the wheel of a bus makes a difference,” Ratliff said.

AHPS has several openings in its transportation department for bus drivers and shuttle drivers. Persons interested in learning more should visit www.ahps.k12.va.us.  Applicants who wish to drive cars are also needed for specific student transportation needs.

“We really appreciate the contributions our bus drivers make to our community,” said Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS.  “Our bus drivers keep our kids safe, and they also help set the tone for their school days.”

Jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington, AHPS serves approximately 2,700 students.

School division news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and at www.ahps.k12.va.us.

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