A Minute with Mrs. Sara Schlechter

Mrs. Sara Schlechter has been with the Firelands District since 1986.  We are grateful that she is a member of our staff as well as our community.

David E. Drum Award for School Bus Mechanic of the Year Presented to Mrs. Sara Schlechter

 

My philosophy is,  “one of these days I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up.” 

By Sara Schlechter

As a child, I grew up in a school district very similar to Firelands, Black River Local School District.   Black River is a consolidated district that is made up of Huntington, Sullivan, Spencer, and Homerville Townships.  These Townships were located in Medina, Ashland, and Lorain Counties.   All these areas have branches of the Black River flowing through, hence its name.   I was raised on a farm, in Huntington Township.   The farm was a dairy operation until 1964, than was reconstructed to warehouse my father and brothers’ portable feed milling business.  I think that working with my brothers and father, farming and dealing with farm issues and people instilled in me some of the core values of hard work and perseverance.

Although I graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in biology, I decided it was important to marry a farmer and start a family.  And where better for a family to grow up?  Henrietta Township in Firelands School District.  So, I married Edward Schlechter, the farmer of my life, and we raised three children, Will, Carrie and Carl, not to mention cows, steers, calves, chickens, goats and pigs.  (Ed graduated from Firelands Local Schools and was active in FFA and 4-H and I also like to say,” I got my Start in 4-H”).  Our Children attended Firelands Schools, and as following a heritage they were active in FFA and 4-H.   And as the legacy continues, we have 2 grandchildren attending FES and now in Clover Buds 4-H!

Summer of 1986 I trained to be a bus driver.  I was looking for the dream job.  The one that fit a farm wife’s schedule (summers off)!  Bus driver fit the bill!  In the summer of 1992, there was a recall on bus seats, at least 5 buses worth of seats to repair and I got hired to do that.   Later, an opportunity arose where additional assistance was needed in the bus garage and I was asked if I’d be willing to learn some of the mechanics, change lights, keep seats repaired etc., and before I knew it I was hired as a Mechanic’s Helper.    I shared my work day with bus driving and being a mechanic.   Most of the training I got was “on the job” and training through the Ohio School Bus Mechanics Association’s workshops regionally and at state level.   We are required to get 4 hours of ongoing education per Revised Code.  I have been active in the Ohio School Bus Mechanics Association since 1994.  I have attended any training session that is available to me since then. Due to my credentials and experience, I applied for and was offered the Firelands Bus Mechanic position, and in 2004 graciously accepted the opportunity.

Over the years I have worked on and maintained my ASE certifications in School Bus, really those are for my own benefit, but to do the job one needs to stay educated. Bus body and engines have really evolved from safety and emissions, not to mention the electronic components; one has to stay up to date with it all. As in any field of study or work continued education is essential.

At this year’s Ohio Association of Pupil Transportation Conference I was awarded the David E. Drum Award for School Bus Mechanic of the Year Award.  It was very humbling experience for me.  I am indeed honored.

I have been involved with the Regional Road-e-o and State Road-e-o since I became a bus driver.

At present, I serve as the Secretary for the Ohio State Road-e-o Committee and when it is my turn I serve as Chairperson of the State Road-e-o.   With the Ohio School Bus Mechanic’s Association I am presently Secretary.  In the past I have been Regional Associate Director, Regional Director, State Secretary, State Vice-President, State President, and served on State Safety Committee, and State Road-e-o Committee.

Most of all I enjoy the people. The camaraderie, past and present of every one I have had the pleasure to meet and work with in the transportation field.  There are a lot of exceptional people out there that work hard at making School Bus travel the safest mode of transportation to and from school.  I rode the Bus, my Kids rode the Bus and my Grandkids ride the Bus, and to this day I still remember my bus drivers and the impact they made on me.  People in school bus transportation are extremely passionate about their job.

On some of my weekends and a couple of nights a week, I work part-time at Weber Health Care/Wellington Estates Group Homes in their transportation department. I am both transportation and recreation for the residents that live there.  I take them shopping, out to eat, local dances, Church, provide music, and activities.  I have worked there since 1991.

Currently, I serve on the Health Care Committee within the school system; one of our focuses has been on developing a Health Fair for employees and community.

My husband, Ed and I have 3 grown children, Will, Carrie and Carl.  Will and his wife Susan have 4 children, and live 2 miles south of me.  Son, Carl has a daughter, and lives about one mile north.  They are in Partnership together with Schlechter Brother Construction Service and Schlechter Brothers Country Harvest.   Daughter, Carrie works presently an Account Officer at Ag Credit/Country Mortgages, Norwalk.

I am a member of the Henrietta United Methodist Church.  I enjoy studying the Bible. I love gardening, vegetable and flower, traveling and spending time with my children and my grandchildren.   I have enjoyed doing an annual trip to New Orleans the past 3 years to help continue to build houses for people displaced from Hurricane Katrina.

As a true example of Mrs. Schlechter’s character, she wanted to use this opportunity to give the bus drivers a “Big Thank You” for all of their hard work that goes into everyday on the road!