You'll notice that this issue's cover is rather unusual. For the first time in as long as I can remember, we're featuring a transportation manager. More specifically, we're spotlighting George Beckett, transportation director at Kanawha County (W.Va.) Schools.
George is a great example of a transportation professional with passion for his work. He's been with Kanawha for 37 years, starting as a math teacher and moving into the pupil transportation department six years later. He has stayed with school buses ever since.
With the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech still reverberating in the minds of the nation's school community, George is committed to finding ways to reduce the chances of a similar attack and, at the same time, to improve his department's capacity to respond quickly and appropriately. To that end, George is testing GPS tracking systems on some of his buses and will look for other ways to keep the district's schoolchildren safe. Let's hope he never needs to find out how well the tracking system works in an emergency scenario.
Making a difference
This industry is filled with people like George, career professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of schoolchildren. Of course, they end up making a difference in the lives of many others, especially their own employees.
For that reason, our editors will continue to focus their coverage on the people side of the business. "People," in this case, include children, parents, teachers, district administrators, bus drivers, dispatchers, operations managers, maintenance supervisors, transportation directors, superintendents and board members.
The contributions of individual people are easily overlooked. We get so sidetracked by the big numbers — 25 million schoolchildren transported in 475,000 school buses — that we sometimes forget that behind the scenes are individuals making a small difference every day.
At SCHOOL BUS FLEET, we'll keep the focus on the accomplishments of the individual — as part of a larger team. Or the accomplishments of many individuals, as part of a larger team. The key is to focus on the engine that really drives this industry — the people.
Equipment has its place, too
But that's not to say that we won't talk about equipment — buses, computers, software, hardware, mirror systems, doors, engines, stop arms, crossing gates, video cameras and so on.
Although people are the linchpins of all school bus operations, their ability to do their jobs effectively depends on more than their desire. They need the best possible tools to do their jobs, whether that's a laptop computer used to diagnose an engine failure or a 72-passenger bus taking students home after a long day at school.
When all is said and done, this industry does a terrific job of putting together a strong team of people who have the skills and equipment to meet the needs of schools across the U.S. and Canada. It will continue to be a sterling example to the rest of the world of what an industry can accomplish when it hires and retains people with a passion for their jobs.