LUCAS -- Whether he’s organizing bus routes, repairing a vehicle or dropping students off at the end of the school day, Mark Sauder does his work with a humble yet cheerful dedication.
The transportation supervisor at Lucas Local Schools, Sauder was recently honored with the Exemplary School Employee award from the Ohio School Boards Association Central Region.
“As we all know, transportation is an essential function for any school district. Mark Sauder makes the essential look easy,” Supt. Brad Herman wrote in a letter to Lucas families.
Sauder was nominated for the award by the board of education.
“Mark’s greatest skill may simply be his positive “can do” attitude,” the board wrote in its nomination. “His positivity assures confidence among his fellow district employees and provides a great example for others.”
As transportation supervisor, Sauder oversees 13 bus and van drivers as well as substitute drivers. He handles their training and recertification and makes sure every route is covered on every run.
“I have an awesome crew of bus drivers. They get along so well, they have fun and it makes my job so much easier,” Sauder said.
Sauder said it’s his drivers who create a positive culture within the department.
“I can't take credit. I’m fortunate now to have a great crew that I work with,” he said. “I try to be a good example. I hope that helps but everybody has a different personality and you just have to learn to work with their personality and not yours.”
Sauder also serves as the district’s vehicle mechanic, making repairs in between morning, midday and afternoon runs.
Nevertheless, his favorite part of the job is spending time with students. He typically stands by the entrance to the school while busses are loading and unloading, greeting them as they walk by. When needed, he’ll hop behind the wheel to cover for a driver.
“I enjoy that too because I enjoy the kids so much,” he said. “It’s been tough with COVID. I'm not around them as much as I normally am.”
Sauder was hired as the district’s transportation supervisor at age 26.
“I had to learn the ropes all by myself because there wasn’t anybody here,” he recalled. “The drivers helped me through it and the secretaries.”
When classes went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sauder obtained permission to continue coming to work a couple of days a week. Sitting at home just didn’t feel right.
“I felt like I needed to be in here,” he said. “There's always work to do on school buses.”
Sauder said he enjoys his job so much, it doesn’t even feel like work.
“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “We’re a small district. Everybody works together. I think it's so important that I do my best to take care of my part so they can take care of their part.”