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September 27, 2011  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Many paths lead to yellow busing

Here, several industry professionals share how they got their start in pupil transportation.


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Photo by Barry Johnson

Photo by Barry Johnson

In a July 15 post for our Along for the Ride blog titled “How did you start your pupil transportation career?” we encouraged readers to share how they came to join the industry. Here are some of their stories. For more, go here.

Family passion for the industry
I am a second-generation bus operator. My mom drove for years and was so involved with it, and she also made it fun. I started in 1973 in Volusia County, Fla., and I am now with the Department of Education’s School Transportation Management Section as a program specialist. Both of these positions were and are so rewarding. I love what I do, and it is a pleasure to be in this profession.

L. Kay Kanupp
Program Specialist
Florida Department of Education
Tallahassee, Fla.

Sian Thornthwaite
<p>Sian Thornthwaite</p>

Long-term international interest
I was a geography student at university who had then just started a master’s degree in transport engineering when my old high school was one of many proposed for closure in a very rural school district. As a transport student, the school thought I’d be able to help in campaigning against the closure on the grounds of the transportation implications.

That led to me doing my thesis on the transport implications of rural school closures, and then in turn led to a doctorate in school transportation in the U.S. and U.K., and winning a travel scholarship from the university to attend what was then minimum standards [the National Congress on School Transportation] in Warrensburg, Mo., in 1990, and to spend time in Washington, D.C. That was a real eye-opener in so many ways!

But it led to a 21-year (to date) love of Washington, D.C., as well as a long-term interest in U.S. school transportation, a longstanding involvement in the National Association for Pupil Transportation and a career in transport. The challenges of special-ed prompted me to take my studies further and do a master’s in child law, and most recently a Sloan Fellowship focusing on public sector management at London Business School.

The industry has given me a fantastic chance to work with so many great people. I’ve been involved in writing and research, transport planning and staff training.

Sian Thornthwaite
Managing Director
School Transportation Consultancy
Pride Park, Derby, U.K.

Part-time job develops into career
In 1976, I was enrolled in some college courses, but I had not really dedicated myself to any particular major. I decided to work as a school bus driver on a part-time basis. I have always enjoyed working with children and participating in their development, and I thought it would be interesting and fun. I enjoyed the job so much that I upgraded to full time.

I was eager and energetic and devoted myself to working closely with management to contribute to our success.  I considered interacting with the kids a perk. In 1982, I decided it was time to do more, so I enrolled in a computer programming school. At the same time that I graduated from the school as a certified programmer, a supervisory position became available in the transportation division. I applied and was awarded the position.

I think most people don’t have a clue how rewarding a job in this industry can be.

Alan L. Heard
Communications Manager
Montgomery County Public Schools
Rockville, Md.

News clip helps to facilitate career

The company I worked for in Missouri closed, and I saw a news clip about school bus driver training. After 28 years as a driver, trainer and safety terminal manager, I retired and started driving in Arkansas. Now, I’m training.

Phil Chamberlain
Driver Trainer
Bentonville (Ark.) School District


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