We at SBF
often hear about and speak to transportation directors and managers who came to their position by working their way up the ranks at their operation. Many times, they started in the industry as a school bus driver.
Something a little less common, at least from what we’ve seen, is people entering into these positions from a different field.
One example is Mike Connors, the former director of transportation at Brevard Public Schools in Cocoa, Fla. (Connors retired last year
Prior to joining the pupil transportation industry, Connors served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years, and it was there that he got his first experience with pupil transportation. On assignment overseas in Spain, Connors was a deputy base commander.
Under his watch was the transportation of military families’ children from where they lived around Madrid to the base schools. Connors particularly gained experience with student discipline, dealing with issues on the buses (which were motorcoaches) and in the schools.
“Things were easier then,” he told SBF
. “I’d call the military parent in, say, ‘You’re going to do this,’ and that usually took care of it.”
After the Air Force, Connors joined the transportation department at Escambia County School District in Pensacola, Fla. He served as a transportation director there for seven years before moving across the state to Brevard Public Schools.
Connors believed that you shouldn't tell someone how to do their job unless you can do the job. So early in his career in yellow busing, he went through school bus driver training and got a CDL. He maintained the qualifications and also drove a bus from time to time.
Across the country, in Washington state, a retired police commander has become the director of transportation for North Thurston Public Schools in Lacey after working as a substitute school bus driver for just several months.
The Olympian reports
that John Suessman retired from the Lacey Police Department in 2011 after more than 30 years on the job. Following a short stint at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, he made a career change with the encouragement of his wife.
When Suessman learned that North Thurston Public Schools was hiring substitute drivers earlier this year, he applied for one of the open positions and attended training to receive his CDL and certificate from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Then, when the former North Thurston director of transportation announced in the summer that he was leaving the district to pursue a career in special education, Suessman reviewed the job description and realized it would be a good fit for him. He started in the position on Sept. 3.
North Thurston Deputy Superintendent John Bash told The Olympian
, “John’s successful leadership experience in law enforcement combined with his recent training as a school transportation specialist will serve our students, parents and staff exceptionally well.”
In addition, I once spoke with a transportation director at a school district here in Southern California who did consulting work for school districts prior to becoming the director of transportation at his operation.
We have heard both sides of the coin: Working as a school bus driver first and making your way up the ranks gives you invaluable experience and perspective as a director or manager of transportation. Others have said that working in management in other fields gives you a lot to bring to the table in an administrative position at a pupil transportation operation.
Which of these situations applies to you, and what are your thoughts on how both circumstances can be an asset in managing a school bus operation?
Until next time,
| posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 11:10 AM