7/16/2002 12:00 AM
When Jesse Garcia hits the road these days, the safety of 40 schoolchildren is riding on his TEEX training.
After 10 years as a full-time musician with Los Agues (Los Aggies), Jesse Garcia, 38, was looking for a new line of work that would allow him to spend more time with his family in Corpus Christi.
When a career consultant at the Texas Workforce Commission told him TEEX was offering a school bus driver course, he jumped at the chance.
"I've always wanted my CDL, plus they told me there was a very good chance I would get hired by the Corpus Christi ISD once I completed the training," he says.
"The class was challenging and fun. The classroom part was the most difficult, since I've been out of school for so long. I really had to hit the books. The driving part was the most fun."
The class got behind-the-wheel practice in precision driving, backing and emergency stopping. They even practiced driving actual school bus routes.
"The instructors were fabulous," Garcia says. "They knew what they were doing and knew how to explain it. They had patience with us. Besides learning to drive the bus, we learned how to conduct a thorough pre-trip bus inspection. They also taught us how to use a little psychology to handle disruptive kids."
When he finished the 144-hour class, Garcia was hired by the Corpus Christi Independent School District.
"I was kind of overqualified," he says. "The TEEX training was more comprehensive than the school district required. I've been showing the other drivers some of the things I learned.
"It's great to be a trained professional and know how to take charge in an emergency. The bottom line is keeping the kids safe. This job is so important, and there was so much to learn. I think every bus driver should have this kind of training," Garcia says."
Garcia says the career change has been a positive move. " I like the people I work with and the kids on my bus. I like the schedule. It allows me time to eat lunch with my kids at school. And I can do some footwork and marketing for Los Agues during the day. My music is more of a hobby now, which means my life is less stressful. I have more time to spend with my kids."
Garcia has been spending some of that time teaching his daughter to drive. He says he is using the techniques he learned, and "hopefully some of the patience" his instructors had.