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One worker, but many hats

She’s not your ordinary school employee.

In her two-decades plus career, she has worn multiple hats including cafeteria worker, car driver and bus aide.

Currently Barbara Fallen works at the Halifax County High School cafeteria and as a bus aide on bus 139.

“I have the longest line during lunch. The kids always point out when I’m not smiling. Some of them even call me mama,” said Fallen.

Before Fallen worked as a bus aide, she drove a car for the school system for 23 years beginning at C.H. Friend Elementary School. 

She recalls one of her most memorable experiences as a car driver was driving two brothers and a cousin all the way to Brookneal, and they began fighting in the car.

“I had to pull over and stop all of them. They are grown now and got a family,” said Fallen.

She worked as a car driver for 23 years, served in the cafeteria for 21 years and is on her fourth year as a bus aide. 

Over the years she has seen many changes in her jobs as a car driver, cafeteria worker and most recently a bus aide.

Fallen said the dress code has “really changed” referring to the way students dress at the high school now compared to years ago.

The job doesn’t come without its difficulties. Employed as a bus aide and working with special needs students, Fallen said she experiences close up how others treat them.

“It’s difficult when you see adults laugh at them. It’s so sad because they are adults, but they can’t help themselves,” said Fallen.

However, she added it is a privilege for her to help those students. “It really is a privilege.”

Fallen returns to the high school in the summer to stock the drink and snack machines for summer school and said she has done it all when it comes to working in the kitchen.

However, if she could change anything about the school system, she’d change the pay for employees.

“I feel like those who have dedicated their lives to the school system should be paid for their years on the jobs,” concluded Fallen.

The tenured employee is always wearing a smile no matter what hat she’s wearing.

Fallen resides in South Boston and has two sons, Robert and Bryant.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the last story in this series The Gazette-Virginian is publishing this year spotlighting unsung heroes in the education arena.