Cynthia Gibson made sure every student arrived at Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) and home again for over 30 years. The school district’s general manager of transportation, Jim Beekman, said that Monday was supposed to be Gibson's "last first day," as she had planned to retire after the 2019-2020 school year.
BayNews9 reported that Gibson, who was known as Ms. Cherry, was also the union representative for bus drivers, was active in her church and often helped the homeless and at-risk children. According to Beekman, however, her most rewarding role was "grandmother to her beautiful grandkids."
"There are days in our lives that we will always remember. Some for the joy we experienced and others for the sadness. Today is one that I and our Transportation Family of Hillsborough County Public Schools will remember for the sadness that it brought, the shocking realization of losing such a vibrant member of our family," Beekman shared in a statement, according to WFTS-TV.
"Today marked my 36th school opening and to this day, I have never met a driver so unique and so full of passion for those around her. I truly lost a great friend today. Today, as in the days to come, our transportation family will do all we can to help her family through this time of sorrow," Beekman continued. "Countless folks have come forward today making their own pledge to be a better person, to know not to take any moment in life for granted and to express thanks for the impact that Ms. Cherry made in their life. She was a believer, she had the faith and her friends and family know she heard those beautiful words today, well done, my good and faithful servant."
The Plant City Police Department said Gibson died after she crashed her car into the back of a tractor-trailer early Monday morning, Bay9News reported. Grief counselors were present at HCPS' transportation office on Tuesday to help Gibson's coworkers cope with the tragedy.
Representatives for Hillsborough County Public Schools and Plant City Police did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s off-hours requests for comment.
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