CUMMING — The Forsyth County school system’s director of transportation was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the Cumming chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Garry Puetz, who has held the post for nearly 11 years, said the school district is a "great place to work and is blessed with 330 great bus drivers who get 25,000 children to school and back safely every day of the school year."
A Chicago native, Puetz took a circuitous route to his present position. Prior to Forsyth, he was director of transportation for the Gwinnett County school system and had stints as a loan officer and director of a public park.
However, one look at his 6-foot 4-inch tall, 305-pound frame and it becomes easier to guess his first job out of college — professional football player.
Puetz’ career as an offensive lineman for the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins is the one he may be best known for outside of Cumming.
After 10 years in the National Football League, where he was teammates with the likes of Joe Namath and John Riggins, Puetz tried his hand at coaching with the Atlanta Falcons before eventually shifting to transportation.
Driving a school bus is not for everyone, according to Puetz. The transportation chief described the role of driver as a "noble profession" and one that takes talent, patience and a true love for children.
Puetz said his focus all day, every day is the safety of the children and his drivers.
In response to a question about NFL players and concussions, Puetz said he feels children should not play football until they’re at least age 13.
He went on to say that the NFL is working with youth football coaches to demonstrate ways to tackle and block without using the head as a weapon, and added that he thinks better equipment designs will ultimately help reduce injuries.