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A Q&A with ATPE’s 2020 Associate Educator of the Year

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 9/28/2020

The Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year Awards recognize ATPE members who demonstrate exceptional or innovative capabilities in their respective educational fields. This year’s winners were honored during a virtual session during the 2020 ATPE Summit, which, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, was streamed online to ATPE members across Texas.
The 2020 Associate Educator of the Year Award went to Tanya Crites of Lumberton ISD. Tanya has been with the Lumberton ISD transportation department for 29 years and the district’s dispatcher for about six years. Before dispatching, she trained new hires for a decade. On top of her dispatcher duties, Tanya also drives when needed, assigns trips and buses to their routes, keeps up with the monthly headcount, and is one of three certification teachers in Region 5 who helps ensure bus drivers keep up with the proper certifications to continue driving.
ATPE reached out to Tanya to learn more about what she loves about her job and the story of how she became a bus driver.
How long have you been an ATPE member?
I have been a member of ATPE virtually from the beginning [of my career]. I was told about ATPE when I came to transportation. I joined because it was a good organization and offered a lot of resources for me as a bus driver. I especially liked that I had access to a lawyer if I ever needed one. That is the big selling point for me. It gives me peace of mind knowing I can call and ask employment questions, that if I ever needed an attorney, I have access to my own lawyers.*
What is your favorite part of your job? 
Driving the kids! I love my job. I love everything I do. I look forward to coming to work—seeing the children, talking with my work family. My office is my home away from home. I even referred to my bus as my home. I spend as much time on the bus as I do at home. Now I spend as much time in my office as I do at home.
Share your favorite moment as an educator.
There are so many memories, it is hard to choose just one. I would say my favorite memories are driving the field trips my children went on. Being able to spend one-on-one time with each of them has given me and them lots of memories. Not only did I get a chance to spend time with my three children, I’m now able to spend time with my six grandchildren as well. These are the memories I will cherish.
What made you want to be an educator? 
Funny story! I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana. I had a friend who was the manager for the school cafeteria. When we moved back to Lumberton, I put in my application to work in the cafeteria because I would be off when my kids were off and have summers off with them. I saw “bus driver” and checked the box. Didn’t give it another thought until I got the call to come for an interview. When I hung up the phone, my husband stated, “You can’t drive something that big.” My mom stated, “You don’t have the patience for that many children at one time.” My twin sister laughed so hard she cried. So, here it is 29 years later, and I’m rocking the driving and have advanced a little in my career. I absolutely love my job!
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*Eligibility, terms, conditions, and limitations apply. Visit atpe.org/protection to view important disclosures and complete details of the insurance policy. Staff attorney services are provided separate from the Educators Professional Liability Insurance Program.