FRAMINGHAM – Clayton Ward grew up in Tennessee, where his family owned a school bus company.
He moved to Massachusetts and eventually started driving a school bus, himself, for the City of Framingham.
He didn’t realize, at first, that the students he was transporting to and from school would be his inspiration to head back to the classroom himself. They helped him rediscover his desire to go back to school and earn his college degree.
“I really enjoy working with kids, especially the high school students, and during the bus routes, we would chat about their classes. As a history buff, I would share lessons that I learned in school and we talked a lot about academics. After several of these discussions, some of the students would tell me they wanted me to be their teacher. I think they only said that because I was a different person than their regular teachers, educating them in a different way to pique their interest. But, however small that mention was from those kids… it stuck with me and gave me the motivation to complete a goal I had started years ago,” said Clayton.
After high school, Clayton attended college in Virginia, but the demands of school and work took their toll on him and he left college after a few semesters. He never lost interest in earning a college degree, however, and talking to the students on his school bus every day, “renewed his sense of passion for expanding and teaching young minds.”
He enrolled at MassBay Community College in May 2019 with the goal of earning his degree, transferring to a four-year institution, and some day teaching history to high school students, just as he did with the kids on his bus route.
Clayton worked full-time, driving the school bus while attending classes full-time at MassBay.
He focused on doing the best he could in all his classes. He earned a spot on the Dean’s List every semester and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.
“It wasn’t always easy. I would drive my route in the morning and afternoon, take a class in between shifts, and take night classes and classes online to complete my degree requirements. I would think of those students and all the years I wanted to make this happen, and it helped me focus my energy.”
“Many years ago, I heard a quote from my former middle and high school band teacher, but it has stuck with me and has helped me stay the course and get to where I am now. My teacher said, ‘Discipline is not doing what you are supposed to be doing when everyone is watching. Discipline is doing what you are supposed to be doing when nobody is watching.’ This quote has allowed me to be successful at MassBay.”
In just one year, Clayton has completed his Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts and will transfer to Framingham State University in the fall to pursue his bachelor degree in History, with a minor in Secondary Education.
He will be recognized at MassBay’s commencement ceremony for receiving the following awards: Highest Honors, the All-College Award for his 4.0 GPA, the All-Divisional Award for having the highest GPA in the Humanities and Social Sciences division, and for having the highest GPA in the Liberal Arts program.
MassBay Community College has facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career-minded lifelong learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves
Photos and release from MassBay Community College