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October 25, 2011  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Young guns in the yellow bus industry

In this new feature, we turn the spotlight on the younger side of school transportation. Find out how these movers and shakers got involved in the industry, how they contribute to its success and what they see in its future.


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As the Region 6 Representative for the Transportation Administrators of Arizona, Tony Mlynek creates mini-conferences throughout the year within his region.
<p>As the Region 6 Representative for the Transportation Administrators of Arizona, Tony Mlynek creates mini-conferences throughout the year within his region.</p>

Antonio "Tony" Mlynek

Transportation Supervisor for Special Education, Washington Elementary School District #6, Phoenix, Ariz.

What are your key responsibilities in your job?

It is my responsibility to supervise 110 super bus drivers and bus assistants who transport special-education students to many of our in-district school sites and out-of-district private schools. My responsibilities also include being a liaison between the transportation department, school staff and parents to collaborate on safe transportation for each student.

When and how did you first become involved in the school bus industry?
I started in July 1997, at the age of 19, at Peoria (Ariz.) Unified School District. I always wanted to drive a school bus when I was younger, and I also needed a job where I could attend college during the mid-day.

What did you do before that?
I attended high school at Centennial High School in Peoria, Ariz.

Tell us about any involvement you have with industry associations.
I am involved with the Transportation Administrators of Arizona, where I reside on the board as the Region 6 representative (Maricopa County). My main responsibility is to create "mini-conferences" throughout the year within my region, to allow for networking and continuing education within our industry.

What do you like most about being part of the school bus industry?
Each day is different; I enjoy having a new challenge to solve. Thank goodness I have great bus drivers and bus assistants that "stand up to the plate" when challenges arise.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your job?
Simply not having enough time in the day to get everything done!

What's the best advice that someone has given you in your career?
Keep the main thing, the main thing. Focus on safety, timeliness and excellent customer service, and you will be successful in this career.

In what ways do you think the school bus industry will change over the next 20 years or so?
I definitely see technology creating more efficient ways to operate all aspects of the school bus industry.

Do you see a need for the industry to attract more young people? If so, how can it be done?
Absolutely. I would like to see our national associations work with colleges around the country to promote our industry and create an undergrad program in pupil transportation.


Erin Lake believes there's an advantage to having a mix of seasoned veterans and new individuals in the industry who bring with them fresh ideas.
<p>Erin Lake believes there's an advantage to having a mix of seasoned veterans and new individuals in the industry who bring with them fresh ideas.</p>
Erin Lake
Marketing Communications Manager, Blue Bird Corp., Fort Valley, Ga.

What are your key responsibilities in your job?
I oversee all marketing and communications for Blue Bird Corp. This includes internal and external marketing, and support for our dealer network.

When did you first become involved in the school bus industry?
My entry into the school bus market came in 2007, when I joined Blue Bird Corp.

What did you do before that?
I have always held roles in marketing and communications. Marketing is my passion — I love this field.

Tell us about any involvement you have with industry associations.
Blue Bird is an active member of the ASBC. As one of the founding members, Blue Bird has worked within ASBC to ensure the viability of the yellow school bus. Blue Bird is also a business partner and member of the NAPT, as well as a member of NASDPTS and NSTA.

What do you like most about being part of the school bus industry?
Hands down, the people and the mission. This industry comprises so many hard-working, genuine individuals who ensure the safe transportation of our schoolchildren. You can't beat working for a company and an industry that strive for this core principle.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your job?
The wheels of a school bus manufacturer are continually in motion. Many times, there simply are not enough hours in the day to execute all the marketing projects I strive for.

What's the best advice that someone has given you in your career?

Listen, be flexible and don't be afraid to think outside of the box.

How do you think the school bus industry will change over the next 20 years or so?
With continual initiatives to meet air quality standards and the cost of fuel continually on the rise, I anticipate alternative fuel technology to be an even greater player in the school bus industry. The automotive industry has been moving in this direction for years, and the school bus industry is really beginning to take notice of the features and benefits of alternative fuel technology.

Do you see a need for the industry to attract more young people?
Absolutely. There is always an advantage to having a mix of seasoned veterans and new individuals who bring fresh, realistic ideas.

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Sorry to differ with ms. Walton,but I fail to see the vast knowledge involved in the school bus industry. It's not exactly as challenging as per say a brain surgeon's or rocket scientist's education.

george lowinnger    |    Oct 25, 2011 11:37 PM

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