WARSAW — Warsaw Community Schools recently recognized school bus driver Lisa Wallen for over 33 years of service.
Wallen was born in Wabash and grew up in the Silver Lake area. She recalled moving to Warsaw at age six. Her parents were also part of the WCS family. Wallen’s mother, Phyllis Faudree, was a Washington Elementary second grade teacher from 1966 to 1994. Her father, Gary Faudree, taught physical education and health at Edgewood Middle School from 1966 to 1995. Wallen’s brother, Brent, followed in the family tradition of serving others through his work at Grace Village Retirement Community.
She fondly remembers the opportunities she had at Warsaw Community High School and was especially grateful for the business and typing courses that helped her hone her administrative skills. While the average adult types 40 words per minute, Wallen was clocking 93 wpm as a high school student. Moving on to International Business College in Fort Wayne, she graduated from the secretarial program with multiple job offers. Returning to her roots, Wallen put her talent to work at Da-Lite for seven years.
Wallen married Mike, from Michigan, and the couple welcomed two sons, Shane and Tyler. Now grown, they work in the healthcare industry in physical therapy and occupational therapy. Her daughter-in-law, Sarha Wallen, works for WCHS counseling; her daughter-in-law, Lindsey Wallen, is a kindergarten teacher at Leesburg Elementary. Lisa’s family expanded recently to include grandchildren and future third-generation Warsaw Tigers: Teddy, 6; Avery, 4; and Henry, 2.
It was 35 years ago when Lisa’s mother suggested she apply to become a school bus driver. After training, Lisa picked up extracurricular trips but waited two years for an opening to get her own route.
“The transportation department was located near Brouwer’s in the current highway building,” said Wallen. “We were a smaller district and had a smaller fleet. It was worth the wait. I loved being outside, being on the same schedule as my young children and taking care of students every day. Driving a school bus gave me the freedom and the family time I couldn’t find anywhere else.”
Lisa’s first route was for Leesburg, then Lincoln and now Jefferson. She has transported multiple generations from the same family.
“It’s so rewarding when a student remembers me and tells me that I made a difference,” said Wallen. “Tells me that I made them feel safe. I may not always recall a name, but I do remember their face and even where they boarded my bus.”
Lisa is in good company with several drivers at WCS who have achieved the 33-year club. She’s looking forward to many more years of driving for WCS and earning her 40 years of service club membership.
“It takes a certain kind of person to be a school bus driver,” said WCS Director of Transportation Mark Fick. “Lisa has been doing it for over 30 years for WCS. It’s an achievement that few have accomplished and she’s not even close to stopping. It’s a joy and a privilege to work with her every day.”