1R3A4344Deborah Carrizales cannot think of anything else she would rather do than work for Donna ISD’s Transportation Department. Her love of the job and passion for the students she serves is so evident that it earned her the department’s first Employee of the Year title.

As a bus aide for the district, Carrizales monitors special-needs students who ride bus #112 to and from school. This is her third year with the district. “I was quite surprised,” Carrizales said. “I wasn’t expecting this but it is quite an honor. I enjoy what I do and love working with special-needs children. I hope to stay here for as long as I can.”

1R3A4347Carrizales has been around special-needs children throughout her career including six years at a rehabilitation facility and nine years at a day care center. She also has a cousin who she occasionally takes care of. “They’re really loving children, they really are,” Carrizales said. “They strive for attention and like to warm up to you. I like to return the affection and make them feel comfortable and welcomed on the bus. It’s a good feeling.”

Carrizales said it is important that bus aides get to know each child individually and understand their needs. “We need to know the children so we can know what they expect from us and what we need to give them. I normally sit in the back because I can see each one of them from the big mirror that’s in the front of the bus. If one of them needs something, I get up and assist them. I also make sure they are buckled in properly.”

She also communicates with their parents when necessary. “I don’t want the children to get motion sickness when they’re riding the bus,” Carrizales said. “If they’re not feeling well, I make sure I bring it to their parents’ attention when we drop them off at their home.”

1R3A4342DISD Transportation Director Luis Solis praised Carrizales. “She does an excellent job with any student she comes in contact with but the real blessing this year is that she’s touching the lives of our special-needs students every day. She does not see them as riders on the bus but rather special individuals.”

The department and the many others across the district were encouraged to implement this title recognition this year. Carrizales was chosen from among the 135 Transportation Department staff.

“I think the district as a whole wanted to make sure that every department recognized an employee who has gone above and beyond,” Solis said. “The criteria included no absences which I can proudly say Deborah had zero. She did not miss a day of work and we thank her for that because we didn’t have to find a substitute to replace her. Also, she had no accidents and no parent complaints which is excellent and greatly appreciated.”

Solis said it is employees like Carrizales who help his department be successful. “I’m very proud of her. She shows so much joy when she comes to work and is always eager to do her job. Employees like her resonate toward others and others can grow and learn from her.”