By Tamara Jones, Amarillo Globe-News Correspondent
Like mother, like daughter. Following in her mother’s footsteps, 39-year-old Ann Billington has been transporting Amarillo school children for 15 years.
Billington’s mother, Ressie Martin, drove a bus for Amarillo Independent School District for 25 years.
Billington currently buses students from neighborhoods in northwest Amarillo to and from Windsor Elementary, Bonham Middle and Amarillo High schools.
Last year, Billington was promoted to safety trainer, responsible for teaching new drivers how to transport children in a safe manner.
The promotion was especially gratifying because she has struggled with a reading disorder her entire life.
“I am overcoming, but I’ve always been ashamed until I started realizing other people are worse off than me,” Billington said.
Drove an 18-wheeler for 18 months, transporting “everything, including high security” items.
Single mother of two also caring for her disabled mother.
Although her reading skills were formally tested when she was in grade school, at that time “there was a limited understanding of the different problems kids may have,” Billington said.
She was placed in special needs reading classes in the third grade, but continued to have trouble.
Only recently has Billington been able to openly talk about her struggles.
“I’m frustrated by the simplest words and will just skip over them,” she said. “After reading a whole section I’m able to put the word in context and figure out what it is.”
A major obstacle is reading aloud, which she is required to do often as a safety trainer.
Billington hopes her reading ability continues to improve.
“I want to achieve a lot more,” she said, “for my children. My children are wonderful, a real godsend to me.”
Her son, Lance Rogers, is a junior at Palo Duro High School. Although he enjoys playing basketball, he stopped playing organized sports to focus on school work.
Her daughter, Shatori Wilson, graduated in 2006 and is currently taking a break from the University of Houston. She works full-time for a temp agency to earn money for college.
“She’s my best friend, my backbone,” Billington said of her daughter. “She always has my back.”
Billington also cares for her mother, who is disabled. She refers to herself as “the ringleader at home” because “things sometimes get a little loud.”