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November 01, 2003  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Another 25 Fascinating Industry Personalities

After last year's inaugural look at some of the best and brightest in school transportation, we decided that this industry has a lot more good people who deserve recognition. This year's group of 25 outstanding professionals shares a little of their backgrounds, interests and goals for the future.


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It would take hundreds of issues of SBF to give due credit to every hard-working, dedicated and “fascinating” individual who works in the interests of transporting students to and from schools safely. However, we have selected another group of 25 people who we feel represent this industry superbly. These people are remarkable for both their professional accomplishments and their extraordinary pursuits outside the workplace.

Once again, we offer the profiles in an interview format, and we sincerely thank the 25 participants for giving us their time and revealing so much information. Recurring themes discussed by this year’s group include family values, emphasis on self-improvement and a taste for adventure — respectable qualities in every line of work. The entire industry can be proud of the efforts of these fine professionals.

 


BRENT CARMAN

School Bus Driver, Morgan Hill (Calif.) Unified School District
Born: Gilroy, Calif.
Years in industry: 18
Previous occupations: Truck driver, chauffer, fork-lift operator

How did you get your start in the industry?
I drove a truck for seven years, but I was laid off every winter. I noticed that school buses, tour buses, transit buses and limousines were always working. So I went to Morgan Hill Unified School District and trained to become a school bus driver.

Top achievements in life?
My top personal achievement was driving a transit bus during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It’s a wonderful experience being a part of the Olympics. If you can't compete at the Olympics, at least help transport fans to the venues. I have always been very competitive, so it’s great to be able to drive the fans to see the greatest athletes in the world compete. My top professional achievement was winning the international School Bus Roadeos in San Francisco in 2000, Chicago in 2002 and New York in 2003. I’m very proud to be tied for the record for the most wins by one person.

Outside interests?
I enjoy water and snow skiing. I went back to Utah in December 2002 after the Winter Olympics and did some skiing at Park City. They have a slalom event where you can actually get gold, silver or bronze medals, so I signed up for two runs. On my first run, I was fast enough to win a bronze. On my second run, I missed the gold by a couple tenths of a second.

Most interesting place you have been?
Alaska. It’s very beautiful — the mountains, lakes, rivers and the inward passage. It’s also the coldest place I have ever been, dropping as far as 80 degrees below zero. In January you can see the Northern Lights. And in some places the rivers freeze. The lakes can have about 3 feet of ice on top of the water. I was there in 1980 and ‘81, and someday I would like to return.

 


JUDITH DAHLSTROM

Transportation Director, South Bend (Ind.) Community School Corp.
Born: Gary, Ind.
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: Certified medical assistant, physician's assistant, bus driver, driver trainer, supervisor

How did you get your start in the industry?
After my daughters were born and I was a stay-at-home mom, we needed (I wanted) a new couch. So I applied for work as a substitute bus driver. I got the job — and found a career in pupil transportation.

Current job duties?
I’m responsible for the direct planning and daily operations of 300-plus vehicles that transport more than 16,000 students.

Top achievements in life?
In this order, being married to a wonderful husband for 38 years, raising three beautiful daughters who are all successful with careers and family, professionally surviving 30 years in the pupil transportation business and still liking what I do.

Outside interests?
My husband and I are avid flower gardeners, vowing each year not to start a new bed. However, we usually do and have now gotten all the neighbors involved. Great fun! We also like to travel and spend time with our two grandsons in Indianapolis.

Favorite book or movie and why?
How to Make an American Quilt is one of my favorite ones to watch over and over again. The characters celebrate their lives by telling their life stories with their quilt-making to a younger houseguest.

Most interesting place you have been?
By far the most interesting place is Albuquerque, N.M. We took a side trip to an Indian pueblo far atop a mountain range. There, life was standing still, with Indians still living as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m such a people person that my life is pretty much an open book. I love to talk with people and share ideas. I’ve been thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet other transportation people like Lucy Harding and the late Dennis Essary, to name a few.

 


MAGDA DIMMENDAAL

CEO, Dousman Transport Co., Dousman, Wis.
Born: Lochem, Netherlands
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: Bus driver, dispatcher, driver trainer, manager, VP

How did you get your start in the indstry?
I got my start as a bus driver, then progressed to VP of Dousman Transport. When the owners wanted to retire, they gave me a chance to purchase the company. I was able to put the deal in place and buy the company in 1988.

Current job duties?
I’m fortunate to have very dedicated managers at all three of our terminals, and four years ago I hired a general manager. He has taken over most of the day-to-day responsibilities from me. I now have the time to give back to the state and national bus associations. I recently finished up a two-year term as president of the Wisconsin School Bus Association, and I’m on the board of directors of the National School Transportation Association.

Outside interests?
I love to garden. In our yard, I have planted roughly 30,000 spring flowering bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils. Being from Holland, you’d expect that, I guess.

Most interesting place you have been?
My brother and I went to Montrose, Colo., and worked on a ranch for five days. We went up to the cow camp and helped round up cattle and move them from one mountain pasture to another. We were just so impressed by how these people lived. It was as though we were transported back a hundred years — no electricity, no phones, no running water. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to keep working with the school bus industry. Now that I don’t have to spend as much time behind a desk anymore, I like to substitute drive. It keeps me in touch with reality. My mother is still alive at 97 and living in Holland. I’d like to go see her a few more times. I also want to raft the Colorado River before I get too old.

 


TED FINLAYSON-SCHUELER

Executive Director, Pupil Transportation Safety Institute
Born: Beverly, Mass.
Years in industry: 24
Previous occupations: Chaplain, cook, car salesman, landscape construction worker

Current job duties?
My job is to work with the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) Board of Directors to maintain the vision of the organization and oversee its direction. I’m involved in product development, I speak at state and national conferences extensively, I represent PTSI at national forums along with the National Association for Pupil Transportation, the National School Transportation Association and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and as with everyone else, I perform "all other duties as assigned."

Top achievements in life?
My greatest honor was to have been chosen as the first non-government agency individual chosen as a "Friend Of NYAPT" by the state association. My greatest joy has been as the trainer of Master Instructors in New York State. My most recent accomplishment is becoming a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration CPS Technician.

Favorite book or movie and why?
For some reason I have been drawn to the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel. Each time she releases another 800-plus page volume I sit down and read it in just about a single sitting. It may be because it takes me so far away (chronologically) from the worries of the day.

Most interesting place you have been?
I fell in love with Colorado when I came out to speak to the state association. Two years later our family drove out and visited the "Four Corners" states, camping and hiking. The Western mountains are so different from ours in the East and the geological and cultural history is fascinating.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Every December I cook a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for 150 to 200 people who are served by social outreach programs at our church. I’m a recreational runner and hope to someday complete a marathon.

 


DENIS GALLAGHER

Chairman and CEO, Student Transportation of America
Born: New Jersey
Years in industry: 27
Previous occupations: Dispatcher, fueler, washer, mechanic

How did you get your start in the industry?
I am the youngest of four boys, all of whom were in the business, and we always worked in transportation. My father was the major influence in the decision — “If you want to eat, get to work!" I learned the b-u-s in business from him.

Current job duties?
Today, I am fortunate to be the chairman and CEO of Student Transportation of America, a company I started in May 1997. I work with great partners and friends every day. I am responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company and its growth, along with our finance and investment activities.

Top achievements in life?
I’ve received many awards and acknowledgements for business accomplishments, community service projects and from my university, which gave me a great education. I married my high school girlfriend and we have four great children, ages 23, 21, 19 and 17. That is my greatest achievement.

Favorite book or movie and why?
I like reading biographies of business executives. I’ve enjoyed and learned from many, ranging from J.W. Marriott’s book about his company and customer service to stories on the CEOs of Coca Cola, Disney, Continental Airlines and IBM. I don’t have a favorite movie, but I do like Groundhog Day with Bill Murray because it is funny and it reminds me of this business — every day we wake up and have to take the kids to school, but hopefully, because we get to do it again, we get a little smarter than yesterday.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I always wanted to be an FBI agent. My kids call me the CIA because I always seem to know what they are doing, even when they don’t want me to.

 


PETER GRANDOLFO

Program Administrator, Chicago Public Schools
Born: Oak Park, Ill.
Years in industry: 28
Previous occupations: Teacher, mapmaker

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was assigned to teach at a school in Chicago in 1975. My second day on the job, the principal asked me if I could read a map. When I told him that I used to make maps, he said, "Good, you’re in charge of the busing here."

Current job duties?
I recently changed jobs within the Chicago Public School system. My current job title is program administrator at the Northside Learning Center High School. Duties include transportation, discipline and a variety of other administrative responsibilities.

Top achievements in life?
Some of my greatest achievements were to participate at the U.S. Office of Special Education in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997. I also participated on the committee to develop Guidelines for the Safe Transportation of Infants and Toddlers on School Buses, and with the Wheelchair Transportation Safety Committee to develop standards for "transportable" wheelchairs for use in motor vehicles. Inviting my wife to our wedding in Williamsburg, Va., several years ago was a top achievement.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite movies are Speed (guess why); Star Wars, because I am one of only a few Jedi Knights remaining that is fighting the dark force in our universe; and Northwest Passage, which has inspired me to overcome the most adverse personal and physical challenges I’ve faced in life.

Most interesting place you have been?
Aside from going to Bari, Italy, to the place of my father’s birth, the most interesting place I have ever been was Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Department of Education and Department of Transportation Staff. Both were very interesting experiences.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
You’d never know from looking at me today, but before I took the job with the Bureau of Student Transportation for Chicago Public Schools, I was a respectable runner. I’ve completed four marathons. Each was a rewarding personal challenge.

 


ANDREA JONES

Creator of Safety Campaign, Grand Junction, Colo.
Born: Denver
Years in industry: 1
Previous occupations: Flight attendant

How did you get your start in the industry?
I approached Laidlaw in Grand Junction, Colo., and asked them if they would carry my safety slogan — "Watch Your Speed. Look For Children" — on their fleet. Bumper stickers with the slogan are now displayed on more than 800 school buses in the state. This message is also posted on the marquees of multiple businesses around Colorado. I also have a Website dedicated to the campaign at www.watchyourspeed.com.

Current job duties?
I am a speech and language therapist at Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Grand Junction. I also volunteer for the Safety-Saur-Us Coalition, which is a dinosaur-themed vehicle that demonstrates safety. I advocate pedestrian safety and incorporate the "Watch Your Speed. Look For Children" campaign into it.

Top achievements in life?
My top achievements would have to be my three children. I started the school bus safety campaign for them because I was concerned for their lives. Every day I would look at a quote on my refrigerator, and it reminded me of what I had to do. I set out to create a safer environment for them and for all children. The quote is: "When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted." — Eleanor Roosevelt.

Outside interests?
My interests include hiking in the Colorado National Monument and skiing at Powderhorn. I also love to bake cookies.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite movie is Steel Magnolias. I love this movie because it demonstrates what strong women and families can overcome.

Goals for the future?
To continue to spread awareness on pedestrian safety and include more school districts and states in this program. I would also like to see "Watch Your Speed. Look For Children" posted under neighborhood speed limit signs. I am also representing Grand Junction in the 2004 Mrs. Colorado Pageant, and the safety campaign will be my platform.

 


STEVE KALMES

Transportation Director, Anchorage (Alaska) School District; Incoming President, National Association for Pupil Transportation
Born: Evanston, Ill.
Years in industry: 31
Previous occupations: Newspaper carrier, postal clerk and carrier, custodian, house painter, cafeteria manager, ice skating rink manager, school bus driver

How did you get your start in the industry?
I started as a school bus driver while attending the University of Kansas.

Current job duties?
This is my 19th year as transportation director for the Anchorage (Alaska) School District. We provide over 6,000,000 passenger trips each year. Forty percent of our 250 routes are district operated, and First Student Inc. provides 60 percent of our service.

Top achievements in life?
Being the father of two wonderful young women, Katie and Sarah. Professionally, I have served as transportation director for the 1996 Arctic Winter Games and transportation commissioner for the 2002 Special Olympics World Winter Games. I’ve also served on the board of directors of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) since 1998. I will have the honor to serve as president of the NAPT for the next two years.

Outside interests?
Snowmachining (in the lower 48 states, they call it snowmobiling), skiing, backpacking, fishing and woodworking. My wife says I’m not bad at cooking dinner on the barbecue at 10 degrees below zero.

Most interesting place you have been?
In July, my family and I followed the route that thousands of prospectors used during the Klondike Gold Rush from 1897 to 1899. We hiked the 33-mile Chilkoot trail between Dyea, Alaska, and Lake Bennett, British Columbia. During the trip, we marveled at the fact that each prospector was required to carry a ton of supplies over the 3,700-foot pass before they were permitted to enter Canada.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I served in the Navy in Vietnam on the USS Askari. We were anchored about 40 miles up the Mekong River, where our mission was to repair river patrol boats.

 


RON KINNEY

Director of Marketing Development and Government Relations, Laidlaw Education Services
Born: Stillwater, Okla.
Years in industry: 34
Previous occupations: School bus driver, mechanic, driver trainer, transportation manager, instructor of bus driver trainers, state director of school transportation

How did you get your start in the industry?
I started driving a school bus on a part- time basis while attending college. It didn’t take long for me to realize that supporting a family on a part-time school bus driver’s salary wasn’t a good idea. So, I applied and was hired as a school bus driver/mechanic, chief cook and bottle washer for an elementary school district in west Fresno County, California.

Current job duties?
I conduct market research, assist in business development, and monitor federal and state legislative and regulatory proposals.

Top achievements in life?
First and foremost, I have been blessed with two wonderful, healthy children. A couple of professional high points were overseeing the development of California’s "Behind-The-Wheel Training Guide" and developing specifications for the first of its type "Utility School Bus."

Outside interests?
When not working or spending time with my two granddaughters, I’m on the Sacramento Delta trying to catch some type of fish or in the mountains on a snowmobile.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite book is Webster’s Dictionary because it actually gives me answers to questions. On the movie side, I would say just about any movie with John Wayne.

Most interesting place you have been?
I spent time in China, where I realized just how young our nation is and how fortunate I am to be an American. Having spent most of my life involved in teaching driving techniques, I was in shell shock when I realized that somehow the Chinese version of the Smith System was designed around a 30-inch following distance and appeared to be rather effective.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a U.S patent for a "two-way exit door" for a bus.

 


DALE N. KRAPF

Chairman, Krapf Bus Companies
Born: West Chester, Pa.
Years in industry: Washed and swept buses by the time he was 10, but began working full time in 1967
Previous occupations: Spent 10 years in body and maintenance shop after graduation from college

How did you get your start in the industry?
It was natural for me as I was always interested in only following in the footsteps of my parents. It is a decision I have not regretted.

Current job duties?
My major responsibilities are influencing corporate policy and direction, negotiating contracts, looking for growth opportunities and purchasing large-ticket items.

Top achievements in life?
Personal — Three very talented sons who are shareholders in the family business and a wonderful, loving and dynamic wife who supports my many endeavors.

Professional — The successful transition of our family business to include our third generation; the growth and reputation of our company; and my chairmanship/presidency of organizations such as the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania School Bus Association and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA).

Outside interests?
I am an avid marathon canoeist, winning national championships in both flatwater events and whitewater events that include three national mixed titles with my wife, Nannette. I also make annual journeys to British Columbia for seven days of back-country helicopter skiing.

Most interesting place you have been?
Nannette and I took a trip to Morocco last year. The people, culture, terrain and the sunrise atop a sand dune in the Sahara — all made for my most eventful vacation.

Goals for the future?
To make our company a great company under the guidance of our third-generation family. To impact and continue the very positive things happening within NSTA over my two-year presidency. And while doing the above, to find a better balance of quality free time for myself and immediate family.

 


DEBORAH LINCOLN

Director of Pupil Transportation, Oregon Department of Education
Born: Marshall, Mich.
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: Golf course manager, bookkeeper, school bus driver

Current job duties?
I am director of pupil transportation and fingerprinting for the Oregon Department of Education. Along with all the duties involving transportation, I also oversee criminal background checks on prospective employees and volunteers. I love writing training programs, teaching school bus drivers and training new trainers. I am also currently the President of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).

Top achievements in life?
First and foremost I would say that I have been married for almost 31 years and have raised three children who make me proud. The rewards have been rich, and recently I have been blessed with a granddaughter. During my tenure with NASDPTS, I have learned so much and I hope that I leave a legacy of accomplishments and that the members whom I serve are satisfied with the job that I have done.

Outside interests?
I am a good seamstress and have sewn many wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, men’s suits and toys. I love gardening and working with plants. My husband built me a greenhouse last year, and I enjoy being there, watching things grow. My husband and I own a sailboat, which is moored in a bay of the Pacific Ocean. I try hard to always make time to exercise, which includes weight lifting.

Favorite book or movie and why?
Burning Daylight by Jack London. It is about a man who wins and loses several fortunes. In the end, he finds that true riches were in his family. If the film Overboard is on TV, I will always sit down and watch it, probably for the same reason.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
In 1990, I survived a forest fire by spending about five hours in a fire shelter. I did not know if I would live or die. Facing death makes you assess your priorities. It also made my faith in my God stronger and me sure of his plans to fulfill his purpose of a paradise on earth. It is a lesson I need to continue to keep in mind.

 


BRUCE LITTLE

Senior Transportation Consultant, Colorado Department of Education
Born: Casper, Wyo.
Years in industry: 16
Previous occupations: Traffic accident reconstructionist, traffic safety engineer

How did you get your start in the industry?
After being laid off in Idaho, I heard about a job with R.W. Harmon and Sons, a school bus contractor. I applied and got the job.

Current job duties?
To provide both regulatory assistance and resources to school districts to improve the transportation of students.

Top achievements in life?
I have directly helped prevent traffic accidents, preventing injuries and saving lives, especially those of children.

Outside interests?
My interests include rebuilding a 1964 Karmann Ghia, stamp collecting, science fiction, serving as docent for Denver Museum for Nature and Science and the Aurora History Museum and enjoying my family.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite movie is Forbidden Planet. It was the forerunner of the modern science fiction movies.

Most interesting place you have been?
Standing on the side of Wiggins Mountain outside of Dubois, Wyo., in the middle of a petrified forest with tree stumps, branches, twigs and insects in amber.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
When I was in the Society for Creative Anachronisms, my persona was a Scottish clansman from the 1100s. Yes, I wore a kilt and carried a sword.

Goals for the future?
To continue helping school districts improve the students’ safety, to have fun, enjoy life, have fun, enjoy doing things with my family and did I mention have fun?

 


RANDY MCLERRAN

School Transportation Director, Oklahoma Department of Education
Born: Elk City, Okla.
Years in industry: 24
Previous occupations: Heating and air conditioning service, concrete work, truck driving, harvesting wheat, teaching

How did you get your start in the industry?
I began driving a school bus in 1967 as a high school senior. I continued to drive as a teacher, coach and principal prior to joining the staff of the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Current job duties?
I am currently the state director of school transportation, a position I have held since 1991. I am also in charge of student transfers. Oklahoma has an open transfer law, and approximately 35,000 student transfers are processed by my office annually. I serve as representative for State Superintendent Sandy Garrett on two state boards: the Board of Private Vocational Schools and the Board of the Oklahoma Accrediting Agency. In addition, I accompany the superintendent to monthly meetings of the Oklahoma School Land Commission, which is a public trust that sets aside funds for schools.

Top achievements in life?
Establishing the Oklahoma School Bus Safety Speech Contest and seeing it grow into a national contest has given me great satisfaction. Getting to work with outstanding high school students and seeing them get excited about promoting school bus safety is a wonderful experience. Being selected by SCHOOL BUS FLEET as Administrator of the Year in 2001 was a great honor.

Outside interests?
About anything that takes me outdoors. I love to spend time on my farm tending to cattle, building fences, driving a tractor and, most of all, hunting. Also, I enjoy doing yard work with my wife, Pam.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am an avid history buff, especially the history of the west. Most people would be surprised to know that secretly I would like to write a book. I just cannot decide on a plot. When I do, it will most likely be set in southwestern Oklahoma during the 1950s or 1960s.

 


MIKE MCLOUGHLIN

Motor Vehicle Program Manager, New York Department of Motor Vehicles
Born: Troy, N.Y.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: Drivers license examiner for N.Y. Department of Motor Vehicles

How did you get your start in the industry?
In 1985, the existing bus safety law Article 19-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law was dramatically amended to include criminal history check of all school bus drivers in the state through the new Bus Driver Certification Unit. This new program required a statewide director, and I was fortunate enough to be promoted to that position.

Current job duties?
I am working in the Office of Motor Carrier and Driver Safety, Commercial Driver Licensing Policy unit. I am primarily involved in policy matters related to truck and bus driver safety standards.

Top achievements in life?
Professionally, I would say that successfully implementing and sustaining our special school bus driver requirements program certainly qualifies as one of my top achievements. The success of that program, including daily computerized monitoring of drivers license and criminal history status would not have been possible without the full support of a great many people, including my staff. The program has been a great success in protecting our children for more than 18 years.

Outside interests?
Outside work, I love to spend my time playing a little golf, getting together with family and friends and visiting Ireland.

Favorite book or movie and why?
I particularly enjoy books and movies dealing with political, military and American and Irish history. I found the movie Gangs of New York very entertaining, because it touched on many of my interests noted above.

Most interesting place you have been?
Cobh County Cork, Ireland, is one of the most interesting places I have ever been. Many of the Irish immigrants, including my ancestors, departed Ireland from Cobh. The town is very picturesque, home to the Irish Heritage Museum and has a very interesting history. The Titanic made its last port call at Cobh before setting out on its tragic voyage.

 


GILBERT PEREA

State Transportation Director, New Mexico Department of Education
Born: Albuquerque, N.M.
Years in industry: 24
Previous occupations: Basketball coach, school bus driver, transportation supervisor, transportation specialist, assistant state transportation director

How did you get your start in the industry?
I began during the early years of my career as a basketball coach. The normal duties associated with it also required licensing as a school bus activity driver.

Current job duties?
I am currently an acting division director for the educational administrative and transportation division within the State Department of Education. I oversee the school budget, federal grants management, instructional materials, capital outlay and, of course, the school transportation units.

Top achievements in life?
I believe that my top achievements are being able to set reasonable goals and surpassing them. The first major goal was achieving a state title in high school basketball as the team captain. My professional goal was to become a state director, which I reached at age 32. In 1995, the state legislature re-wrote the statutes for school transportation, and my main goal was to rebuild the administrative requirements and redesign an oversight responsibility for this department. The goal was reached within three years.

Outside interests?
I enjoy playing golf as often as possible, and I would hope that I have some skill in workmanship since I am currently completing some remodeling and new construction on my own time, increasing my home from 2,000 square feet to over 2,600 square feet. At least 95 percent of the work is my own.

Most interesting place you have been?
The most interesting place I have ever been has to be Monterey, Calif., where Pebble Beach is located.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I am a biker tramp from way back (Harleys of course).

 


DANNIE REED

Executive Director for Planning and Transportation, DeKalb County Schools, Decatur, Ga.
Born: Toccoa, Ga.
Years in industry: 21
Previous occupations: Insurance salesman, GM for Royal Crown Cola, military police officer

Current job duties?
Currently, I serve on the superintendent’s cabinet and direct the planning and transportation departments. I oversee 1,033 employees and manage a budget of $35,000,000 a year. DeKalb has 917 bus drivers and transports 78,000 students a day to and from 141 different school sites. We drive 76,000 miles a day or, saying that another way, we drive around the world two and a half times every day.

Outside interests?
Outside of work I love to fish. Actually, I would rather fish than eat. I am a member of the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail. Competitive fishing is very exciting, but watching men grow spiritually is even more exciting. Travis, my son-in-law, and I have won our North Georgia Division two of the five years we have been involved.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite books for pleasure reading are those by Tom Clancy. Reading for work I like Stephen Covey, and for spiritual growth I like Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

Most interesting place you have been?
The most interesting place I have ever been was on a trip to Europe with my wife of 37 years. Seeing the Matterhorn Mountain for the first time was an awesome experience.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
The one thing that might surprise people about me is that I played in a rock-and-roll band while in high school. The name of the band was Dannie and the Lee Riders. The only thing the Beatles had on us was money, press and screaming fans.

Goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to lead DeKalb to become a world-class student transportation provider, create value in all the employees of the department and position my department so that when DeKalb educators meet to discuss school business, they don’t forget to mention transportation.

 


JOE REED

Assistant Director, Transportation/Maintenance, Palm Beach County Schools, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Born: Nashville, Tenn.
Years in industry: 17
Previous occupations: Marine Corps helicopter mechanic/crew chief, shop foreman for a trucking company, VP of maintenance for a coach company

How did you get your start in the industry?
Transportation has been my focus since my Marine Corps helicopter mechanic/crew chief days in the late 1960s. When the job came open at Palm Beach, my wife and I were intrigued. We vacationed in Florida regularly and liked it. We moved down in 1986.

Current job duties?
My current duties include maintaining the department’s annual budget, including purchasing needs. New bus purchases is a top priority as is approving all the bills for payment. I approve hiring and deal with all employment levels throughout the hiring and training process. Facility additions, repairs and maintenance are also my responsibility for all six of our locations. I must confess to having the very best staff anyone could ask for. You wouldn’t be interested in hearing from Joe Reed or Palm Beach District without these great people that make things function as they are supposed to.

Top achievements in life?
The very top achievement is my lovely wife, Carole, our two grown sons, Joe and Andy, and our five grandchildren. There is nothing to equal that as far as I know. I still love my job and enjoy wonderful support from transportation director Bob Riley and all district administration.

Outside interests?
I’ve always had an interest in music. I played drums in a rock band in high school and still have a strong desire there. I get together with a few guys once a week to play oldies and generally make noise. I’ve always been interested in classic cars and motorcycles. My wife and I have re-done a number of classic muscle cars over our 34 years of marriage and presently have a 1955 Chevy project car in addition to my Corvette and her flame-painted PT Cruiser Turbo GT.

Most interesting place you have been?
The last year-and-a-half I was in the Marine Corps, I was in Southern California. I had heard all about the movie stars, drag races and famous beaches for my whole life. It certainly qualified as having a lot of appeal.

 


RICHARD ROSS

General Manager, Transportation Department of Philadelphia School District
Born: Philadelphia
Years in industry: 36
Previous occupations: Commercial driver since age of 16, driving school buses, taxi cabs and small panel trucks

How did you get your start in the industry?
I worked for a national package delivery service that closed their local offices. A friend advised me to try the Philadelphia School District. I was initially hired as a bus dispatcher. God has blessed me through the years with promotions up to my present position as general manager.

Current job duties?
I have oversight responsibilities for the maintenance of the district’s fleet of vehicles and the daily coordination of the efforts of managers to ensure safe, efficient transportation to eligible students.

Top achievements in life?
My focus is very spiritually based, so I would place my ordination as Deacon in the Baptist church first and next the celebration of my 40th wedding anniversary. Finally, being recognized as an honest and fair administrator.

Outside interests?
Working with the elderly is a part of my ministry I really enjoy. I love photography, and I also like to draw and paint.

Favorite book or movie and why?
One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption. I love Stephen King novels and short stories. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins were both excellent in Frank Darabont's screenplay adaptation.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve always had a desire to pilot a helicopter. Most people either don’t believe this or think I’m nuts. I’m not a thrill-seeker and have never been one to take unnecessary chances.

Goals for the future?
My personal goal is to set an example for my three sons that will make them proud of the course God set out for me and that I diligently attempted to pursue. My professional goal is to make pupil transportation a safe and healthy environment for all students.

 


DANO RYBAR

Instructor/Coordinator, California Department of Education, Division of School Transportation
Born: Santa Clara, Calif.
Years in industry: 19
Previous occupations: School bus driver, transportation director

How did you get your start in the industry?
In 1984, I wanted a job that only gave me enough money to "go out and have fun." I became a school bus driver because the hours were good and the pay was great for part-time work.

Current job duties?
Since 1997, I’ve held my current position with the California Department of Education, Office of School Transportation. I instruct potential driver instructors at the training facility in Sacramento. In addition to instructing, I monitor the passenger transportation operations in the counties of Los Angeles, Kern, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo.

Most interesting place you have been?
As past president of the California Association of School Transportation Officials, I had the opportunity to travel to every county in the state and many cities in the nation. I find the Sierra Nevada Foothills in California to be the best place to be. I also enjoy visiting the Hawaiian Islands. I enjoy areas where people are relaxed and enjoy life.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A common reaction I receive from people after they meet me is that I am actually a nice guy. I guess — from what they say — I come off very straightforward and get to the point. After a few minutes with me they realize that I am always there to help and try to make people laugh.

Goals for the future?
My goals are to continue to provide the best service to our industry. When I retire from state service I plan to open a hotel in the Sierra Foothills. I have an eye on this one piece of property in Lake Tahoe that will become mine when I retire. Show me your school bus license and maybe I’ll give you a discount.

 


ROSEANN SCHWADERER

President, Edupro Group; Chair, National Conference on Transporting Students with Disabilities & Preschoolers; Publisher, Legal Routes
Born: Altoona, Pa.
Years in industry: 22
Previous occupations: Editor of various ocean science newsletters, chief editor for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, owner of a commercial printing company

How did you get your start in the industry?
When I started my business in 1981, I missed writing and answered an ad for a freelance writer. Serendipity — a former boss needed a reporter for School Transportation Director newsletter. Soon after, I persuaded him to publish Transporting Students with Disabilities newsletter. I wrote both newsletters until 1998.

Current job duties?
My job is creating ways to deliver vital information to the dedicated professionals in this community. Every March I bring together the best people in their fields to present during the Transporting Students with Disabilities & Preschoolers Conference. In July, I teamed with Peggy Burns to publish Legal Routes, which meets the need for vital information on pupil transportation law and compliance.

Top achievements in life?
I’m proud to have influenced development of the transit wheelchair. No representative of the wheelchair industry had ever addressed a group of pupil transporters until our 1992 Transporting Students with Disabilities Conference. The Invacare official who accepted our invitation to speak told us, "When I’ve heard from pupil transporters in the past, I’ve shredded their letters." Work began that year.

Outside interests?
I’m an active, "can do" person. I enjoy hiking, photography, tennis, reading and being a fixer-upper. I worked beside my dad as he built our house, learning early how to hit the nail on the head. Maybe that’s why I’ve been somewhat successful in providing useful information to transporters.

Most interesting place you have been?
I’ve traveled to many interesting places, including Africa and China. But in the 1970s, I traveled with a federal commission that was assessing impacts of trans-Alaska pipeline construction. I’ve never forgotten the feelings I had in northernmost Point Barrow — seeing a whale silhouetted on the tundra in the dusk, visiting a family’s modest home, knowing their world faced such dramatic change.

 


KNOWLES SMITH

Transportation Director, Teton County School District No. 1, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Born: Detroit
Years in industry: 26
Previous occupations: Route, activity and field trip driver; monitor; driver trainer

How did you get your start in the industry?
While building a house in Jackson Hole, Wyo., I made a foot-long Skilsaw cut in my leg. A school bus driver friend knew of my truck driving experience. She called me about an opening and explained what a great job she had. I applied, and the rest is history.

Current job duties?
I manage the transportation department at Teton County School District.

Top achievements in life?
Professionally, I’ve had the extremely rewarding opportunity to serve on the boards of directors for the Wyoming Pupil Transportation Association and the National Association for Pupil Transportation. Personally, I am the very proud father of two grown sons, Evan and Zachary.

Outside interests?
My hobby is crafting elk, deer and moose antler into functional and art objects. My side business, E&Z Enterprizes, is my supplemental retirement plan. Providing award and school bus novelties to the industry, traveling and having the opportunity to see transportation friends around the country.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite book is The Prophet by Khalil Gibran because the messages are so often relevant.

Most interesting place you have been?
I have traveled extensively in the United States and have been to a few other countries. Many places are beautiful and interesting, but none compare to Jackson Hole. One of my favorite quotes: "If heaven ain't like Jackson Hole, I’m not goin'." — anonymous cowpoke Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
One of my former jobs also involved transporting precious cargo. I worked four years as a beekeeper for a company in New York. We transported millions of honey bees at a time between New York and North Carolina in the fall and spring.

 


BARRY STOCK

Senior VP, business development of Durham School Services and Stock Transportation
Born: Peterborough, Ontario
Years in industry: Entire life
Previous occupations: Bus driver in college, sales manager for Cardinal Coach Lines in Calgary, Alberta

How did you get your start in the industry?
My father and uncle had a bus company in Ontario until they sold it in 1968. As a child, I cleaned behind seats and washed and painted buses. In 1979 my father and uncle bought a small school bus operation and decided that they would not hire any family into the business. This forced my cousins and me out into the "real world" after school.

Following college, Cardinal Coach Lines hired me — first to sell buses and then to manage their tour business. In 1988 my brother Greg and I bought into a school bus business in Kingston, Ontario. We called it Stock School Transport. Meanwhile, my two cousins had a company that they started in 1984 called Stock School Services.

In the early 1990s, we amalgamated all three bus companies into Stock Transportation. We grew that company in two provinces and three states until 2002 when we sold it to National Express.

Current job duties?
My job is to manage the sales team as we grow the business in North America.

Top achievements in life?
Managing the motorcoach transportation for Cardinal Coach Lines during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary; leading our sales team to grow Stock; sale of company to National Express.

Favorite book or movie and why?
While books and movies are tremendous educational resources, when I think of my favorite learning tools, I think of my late uncle, Jerry Stock. His message was simple — "Set the vision, assemble a good team, give the team the freedom to make mistakes and challenge them to stretch higher." Most interesting place you have been?
Rivers Lodge, British Columbia. It’s a fly-in fishing lodge. There are no phones, e-mail or faxes. It’s a wonderful place to contemplate life!

Goals for the future?
To nurture my children into being the best that they can be, by allowing them to learn from global experiences.

 


TERRY THOMAS

President of Community Bus Service, Youngstown, Ohio
Born: Youngstown, Ohio
Years in industry: Entire life. His father started transporting pupils in 1933. He began driving a school bus in 1975.
Previous occupations: Owned a forensic laboratory and restaurants

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was born into it. As I grew up, my dad, four older brothers and I talked at the dinner table about the challenges and rewards of transporting children with disabilities.

Current job duties?
Strategic planning, business development and research and development.

Top achievements in life?
Marrying the woman I love and being dad to four wonderful and exciting children — with a fifth due in March 2004. Developed a goal-oriented company that delivers high-quality, cost-competitive public and school bus services. Instrumental in revitalizing the Ohio Bus Association. Won SCHOOL BUS FLEET's Contractor of the Year Award in 1993. Instrumental in improving the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) to better advance the interests of contractors, serving as NSTA president from 1999-2001 and winning NSTA's Distinguished Service Award in 1993 and 2001.

Most interesting place you have been?
Hawaii. Through NSTA, I have been able to take my family there five times and witness paradise on earth. On my first trip there, I took a helicopter ride over Maui and they played Stevie Wonder’s "Overjoyed" on the audio system. It was beautiful beyond words.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have completed the coursework for a master’s degree in molecular biology. It seems surprising because of my long-time involvement in the business of student transportation.

Goals for the future?
To live a high quality of life right up to the very end, enjoying daily growth through excellent relationships with my wife, children, family, friends and business associates while demonstrating the timeless principles of truth, order, love, fun, empowerment, reciprocity, gratitude and humility.

 


RAY TURNER

Special-Education Transportation Coordinator, Northside Independent School District, San Antonio
Born: Russell, Kan.
Years in industry: 36
Previous occupations: Special-education university professor, school district special-education director, principal of an alternative school

How did you get your start in the industry?
I observed the aftermath of the 1961 school bus-train tragedy in La Salle, Colo., that instantly killed 22. On that day, I promised God I would never have my children ride a bus and I would never drive or work on a school bus. A year and a half later, He answered my prayers by making me a bus assistant after the Colorado legislature required all districts to have an assistant on buses that cross railroad tracks.

Current job duties?
Establishing policies and procedures for special-needs transportation for 330 special-needs drivers and assistants on 155 special-needs buses.

Top achievements in life?
I was most greatly honored to be the Sure-Lok Special Needs Transportation Award winner at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s meeting in 2002.

Outside interests?
I am a rather prolific writer and have authored two books: Special-Needs Transportation Handbook (1998) and Transporting Medically Fragile or Technology-Assisted Students (2000). I’ve also written 72 newsletters and 72 matching PowerPoint presentations. More information is available at my Website, www.whitebuffalopress.com.

Favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite movie is Lawrence of Arabia. Favorite books are anything to do with Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a science fiction novelist (as yet unpublished). I’ve also written a Tony Hillerman-type mystery novel that incorporates my personal experiences on the Navajo reservation at Ganado, Ariz., as a director of special education there.

Goals for the future?
I hope to retire within three to five years and write novels full time, travel and consult with school districts nationwide.

 


CHERYL WOLF

Safety and Training Supervisor, Transportation Department at Lafayette (Ind.) School Corp.
Born: Small town in west central Indiana
Years in industry: 22
Previous occupations: School bus driver, floral designer, cheerleader sponsor, full-time mom and volunteer

How did you get your start in the industry?
A friend wanted to take a trip to the Virgin Islands and needed a substitute driver. I acquired a public passenger chauffeur’s license and never looked back.

Current job duties?
I wear many hats. I am the safety and training supervisor for the transportation department at Lafayette School Corporation. I also am project manager for the Riley Mobile Teaching School Bus.

Top achievements in life?
Professional — To provide training directly to the school bus drivers who transport students with special needs.

Personal — My family! John and I have been married 40 years and have two wonderful daughters and great sons-in-law and five fabulous grandchildren.

Favorite book or movie?
Books written by Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham and Nora Roberts. Movies starring Katherine Hepburn, especially The African Queen and On Golden Pond.

Most interesting place you have been?
A remote lake in Canada. We did a fly-in fishing trip and when the plane came to pick us up after a week in the wilderness, it crashed and sank in 92 feet of water as we stood on the dock watching. The 12 hours before we were rescued was certainly the most interesting of my life.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a spinner of yarns. I take my stories to nursing homes, scout troops and any campfire I can find. I tell wild stories, scary stories, sad stories and stories filled with folklore.

Goals for the future?
Professional — To provide training throughout Indiana and the nation to the drivers of all students with special needs.

Personal — To once again cross that finish line of the Big Sur (Calif.) Marathon and to make memories with our grandchildren that they will remember long after I am gone.

 


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