Grady Cooper has been named the new DCPS transportation director. He replaces Downey Ward, who is retiring at the end of this school year.

Grady Cooper has been named the new director of transportation at Daviess County Public Schools.

Cooper will replace Downey Ward, who is retiring at the end of this school year.

Cooper, who will begin his new position on July 1, is currently the district’s transportation area coordinator and has been working with the transportation department since 1998 as a substitute driver. In 1999 he became a bus driver full-time, specifically for students with special needs. He also has been the district driver trainer. He has been in his current position since 2011.

In 2011 he was also named Driver Trainer of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Pupil Transportation, which he has been a member of for more than 15 years.

His background is in youth counseling and previously had a career as a youth care specialist at Valley Institute of Psychiatry.

He said he is excited about his new position.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to uphold the well-established reputation of the DCPS transportation department by leading an amazing team of dedicated transportation professionals who go the extra mile daily,” he said.

Cooper said his experience working with children as a youth care specialist helped him transition into being a school bus driver. As a youth care specialist, he worked directly with kids to teach them problem-solving skills.

That translated well with becoming a school bus driver, he said, because he knows how to communicate with kids and troubleshoot when any issues arise.

“And it’s led me down a path that I never imagined,” Cooper said of his 23-year career in the transportation department.

He also said the transportation department employees go “above and beyond” every day to ensure student safety, and that has been especially evident during the pandemic.

“Everybody under the transportation umbrella has shown their dedication and their drive to do what’s right to make sure the kids are safe, and I look forward to leading them,” Cooper said.

Damon Fleming, the district’s director of student services, said Cooper has a positive attitude and a good work ethic, which made him the “ideal candidate” for the director of transportation position.

“Grady has served in nearly every role as a member of our transportation department, giving him valuable insight into the unique challenges involved with providing safe and efficient transportation of students,” Fleming said. “Grady not only identifies problems but also solutions. He is a ‘Kids First’ team player who seeks to serve students, families and staff in everything he does.”

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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