Joan Shenk sitting at the wheel of her school bus; a small dog enters the bus; Joan Shenk shakes hands with a bus company representative.

45-year Penn Manor bus driver honored with national award

A Penn Manor bus driver with a long history of transporting students to and from the high school and Conestoga Elementary has been honored with a national award.

Joan Shenk, who drives Bus 132, was selected for an Outstanding Driver Award by the National School Transportation Association for her 45 years of service behind the wheel.

She is one of only five bus drivers in the United States to receive the award this year from the association, which represents bus companies operating more than 200,000 school buses. 

 “She is the gold standard of what you want an employee to be,” said Matt Albaugh, vice president of Shultz Transportation Company, which employs Shenk – the longest-tenured employee in the entire company.

“I was kind of surprised, and I wasn’t expecting it,” she said of the award. “I kidded Mike Kramer (Shultz president) and said, was there only one person nominated?’”

  The award honors a school bus driver who has consistently demonstrated excellence in safety, performance, commitment to pupil transportation, and special contributions to the community. 

  Shenk began driving a school bus just a few years after graduating from Penn Manor.

  “I previously worked evenings and weekends, and I liked the idea of not working evenings and weekends, plus you get the whole summer off,” she said. “I also like handling a large vehicle.”

    She was assigned to Conestoga and the high school and has been serving those two schools ever since.

  “The kids, for the most part, are good,” Shenk said. “The high school kids are great. A lot of times they’ll say goodbye and wish me a nice evening. It takes a little more reminding of the elementary students to behave.”

  Shenk recalled a very reserved student from Conestoga who rode up front throughout elementary school. On the last day of sixth grade – his last day at Conestoga – he stopped next to her before getting off the bus and gave her a big hug.

 “That really meant a lot to me,” she said.

  “Joan is a tremendous bus driver,” said Conestoga principal Dr. Scott Keddie. “She genuinely cares about all the students and works to make each day an enjoyable ride for them.” 

  In addition to her students, Shenk has developed a relationship with several dogs along her route. If a parent is waiting at the bus stop with a dog, she’ll open the doors and toss out a treat. She now has several canine “regulars” who get excited to see her yellow bus pulling up.

 Despite her long years of service, Joan isn’t ready to hand in her keys just yet.

“I hope to drive for another five years – that’ll make it an even 50 years,” she said. “That’s a good time to retire.”

 Congratulations to Joan on this award, and we thank you for your service.

  • Bus driver shaking hands with company vice president in front of bus.
    Matt Albaugh, Shultz Transportation vice president, congratulates Joan Shenk on her award.