Derek Graham and family spend a lot of time together, whether it's traveling to sporting events, church outings or vacation spots.
Section Chief, Transportation Services, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Born: Louisville, Ky.
Home: Cary, N.C.
Years in industry: 21
Notable previous jobs: I have been in pupil transportation since graduate school — first doing research projects, then project manager for our statewide program of computer routing and scheduling and state director since 1995.
Current job duties?
Our section administers the state funding formula for transportation, inspects district buses, designates the school buses to be replaced, coordinates the development of specs and purchase of replacement school buses and supports statewide routing and fleet maintenance systems.
Top achievements in life?
One of the things that I am most proud of professionally is the statewide implementation of the TIMS routing and scheduling software. A lot of things fell into place, and the timing was just right. Districts in North Carolina get computer routing software from the state at no charge, and we have a great group of folks who provide support and training for the system.
Our family enjoys spending time together — usually on the run. Laura Lee and I spend a lot of time shuttling the kids (Scott, 15, and Elizabeth, 12) to soccer, basketball and church activities. We love spending time at the beach, camping or on the ski slopes.
Favorite book or movie?
One of my favorite movies is O Brother, Where Art Thou? In addition to being very funny and appealing to my sometimes twisted sense of humor, it’s the first movie I have seen where I couldn’t wait to buy the soundtrack.
Most interesting place you’ve been?
I have been to Honduras twice on mission trips with my church — one to build houses and one to do vacation bible school. It was altogether different than being a tourist somewhere, because we were living and working with people in their world. There was only one little glitch where, after a meal, I complimented the pastor’s wife using the word seno (breast) instead of cena (supper).
Strangest job you’ve had?
I sold mint juleps in the stands at the Kentucky Derby. Also, I taught business math to a class of modeling students one summer.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I got free Lasik surgery a few years ago by winning an essay contest sponsored by a radio station.
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