Who WE Are – Grace Colon Berrios

Grace Colon Berrios knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of success against all odds. For her, that meant working extra hard because English is her second language. With encouragement from her supervisor, Grace went from being a bus driver to a trainer and is currently a school bus dispatcher. “I have found that because I’m Spanish and I don’t speak the language really good that it wasn’t an obstacle to help me move up. Even though there were many times I didn’t believe in myself because there were words I couldn’t pronounce, my old supervisor always encouraged me.”

When Grace started out as a driver in 1997, she spent 7 of her 23 years with the district driving her bus to pick up students in Riverside, one of Wilmington’s toughest neighborhoods.  Still she says, “ it was very challenging but I had a good relationship with my kids and when they see me now, they remember my kindness…I didn’t just want to be a driver. I wanted to be someone they remembered.”

On the bus or off, Grace says showing kindness is a part of her Christian faith and work ethic. She believes it’s important for families to realize a bus driver’s job isn’t easy, especially now while the state and country faces a critical school bus driver shortage. Often she leaves her office to pick up a run because no one else is available. “With COVID, a lot of people haven’t been able to work so that means more pressure on what we have to do. We have people including myself who do three runs a day.” Still, Grace remains  thankful that she was given the opportunity to move up and wants families to know “at the end of the day we do care…we are here to help because of the kids.” As a mother with a son who graduated from William Penn, she also says “William Penn is a high school that has many good programs for kids. We don’t need to go anywhere else, we just need students who are willing to work and study because we have it all for them!”