Long time Stewart County bus driver, James Wallace, Jr., or Junior as most everyone knows him, has been inducted into the Tennessee School Bus Driver Hall of Fame. Mr. Wallace was honored at the President’s Awards Dinner at Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation Conference held on June 7, 2017 at the Music Road Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, TN. Mr. Wallace is now one of eight school bus drivers in Tennessee to receive this prestigious honor.
Mr. Wallace’s career as a bus driver started in 1972 and spanned 44 years, serving three generations of Stewart County students.
In 1982 , Mr. Wallace started driving the Stewart County Rebels to school events. Stewart County Director of Pupil Transportation, Eric Watkins states that, thirty years ago, Junior Wallace provided my school bus driver training. Junior taught more than just driving the bus, he taught me that we (the school bus drivers) need to show compassion for our students. Sometimes we are their mother, father, friend, nurse, teacher or whatever companion they need. Junior correctly states that we are most likely the only school employee that sees the students at their homes and that provides a unique opportunity to better understand their needs. Junior Wallace is very deserving of the honor. Traveling the same regular bus route for 44 years, a good estimate is that Mr. Wallace has driven approximately a half-million miles, and has made more than 32,000 trips, safely transporting more than 2-million students to and from school and extra-curricular activity trips. Mr. Wallace served the Potneck area off Bumpus Mills Rd in Stewart County Tennessee.
His wife Wanda said, "I knew it would usually be around two or three in the morning before he would get home on some of those away games, but I never heard him complain about it. The longest trip I can remember was when he transported band students to Washington D.C. I went on that trip with him."
Junior states that, "At one time, I was providing transportation for all sports trips including the band and the cheerleaders. I would finish my regular route and head straight back to the school without going home because we had to leave at four o’clock. I would usually drive two nights a week, but sometimes four."
When asked about any problems with children, Junior said, "The biggest thing I had, most of the students that I transported, I also transported their parents and I would tell them if they got out of line I was going to their parents. Some I did, and the parents were always good about taking care of it."
He offered one example of transporting three generations of one family. Mr. Wallace states that when he sees many of his former students “I don't always recognize them."
Mr. Wallace offered his thanks to everyone involved with his selection and induction into to the Tennessee School Bus Driver Hall of Fame. "I am very proud to get this honor and to join this select group of fellow bus drivers.