REFUGIO, Texas — Arno Cisneros has been a staple in the Refugio community for three decades. Cisneros started working for Refugio ISD in 1990 as a bus driver.
“I love it, and I love these kids,” Cisneros said. “[My favorite part is] bringing these kids to school safe, and taking them home safe.”
He’s well known by the people around Refugio, and has driven for multiple generations of families in town.
“I know my kids are well taken care of,” said Haley Wren, the mother of kids on Cisneros’ bus route. “He drove me when I was in school too. That was ten years ago.”
Johnny Young said Cisneros drove his youngest son, who graduated in 2006. Now, he drives his grandchildren. Young said he knows Cisneros can always be trusted to make sure the kids get home safely.
“Sometimes we don’t make it home from work in time, he’ll bring the kids back to the school and call us,” he said.
This year, Cisneros was recognized as Bus Driver of the Year by the Property Casualty Alliance of Texas.
“As a bus driver, he’s the most reliable person I’ve probably worked with,” said Katie Green, the transportation manager for Refugio ISD. “I could call him in the middle of the day and ask him to go take a field trip, pick up a field trip, pick up kids, and he’ll say yes every time; he’ll stop what he’s doing and go.”
Melissa Gonzalez, the superintendent for Refugio ISD, said everyone was ecstatic when they found out he won.
“We had a big celebration in the administration building, cheering, screaming, and clapping,” she said. “We were just so excited, and I couldn’t wait to call and tell him.”
“When she told me what was going on I was like, ‘God almighty.’ It was a blessing,” Cisneros said.
Gonzalez recalled a story from her first year working for the district. She hadn’t made arrangements for her daughter to get home from school.
“I went over to the elementary school, panicked about where my daughter was, and Arno, who I didn’t know, pointed me right in the direction she was,” she said. “He knew who I was, who my daughter was, and that kind of exemplifies the personal commitment he has to our district and our community.”
The last year hasn’t been easy for Cisneros. About a year ago, he was diagnosed with lymphoma of the pelvis.
While he was receiving treatment in Houston, Cisneros still made sure he was back in town to drive his kids home from school.
“I like to work, and that’s what I’ve been doing all these years. I don’t want to stop unless I have to.. really, really have to,” he said.
However, for the last six months, Cisneros has not been able to drive. He said he misses it, and hopes to return soon.
“He’s a very fine gentleman, very conscientious of his work, and very dedicated to his occupation,” said Reverend Jimmy C. Arnold. I’m honored to know him.”
“I know that our parents, and our community, truly love him, and would do anything to help him,” Green said. “We’ve just had a flood of support for him as he’s battled through some of his personal issues.”