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October 19, 2012  |   Comments (4)   |   Post a comment

50 top traits of great transportation directors

What are the essential qualities for success for a school transportation leader? Here, more than 50 directors and managers explain vital traits for the job, from communication and problem-solving skills to a willingness to get down in the trenches.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author


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31. Networking Capability
In pupil transportation, networking with colleagues and getting involved in industry associations can be instrumental in success.

“The ability to verify and/or validate thoughts and decisions amongst your peers is paramount,” says Joe Hough of Buncombe County (N.C.) Schools.

32. and 33. Follow-Up and Follow-Through
To earn the trust and support of parents, administrators and employees, transportation directors must be consistent in following up with them and following through on what they need.

“Customers internal and external want to be sure you will take the time to help resolve their concerns,” Portee says.

34. Accessibility
Many great transportation leaders have an open-door policy.

“If a driver has a problem no matter how big or small you need to be available,” says Colleen Murphy of Austintown (Ohio) Local Schools. “This is very hard to do some days, but [when] you are always there to help and support them, they will do the same for you.”

35. Gets the Facts
Michael Martello of Little Rock (Ark.) School District says that an exceptional transportation director is nonjudgmental until he or she has all of the facts, which should be gathered unemotionally.

“All those who work for you should know that you are really interested in the facts,” Martello says. “Basically, be a calm observer until you have gathered all sides of the story.”

36. Organization
Transportation directors should be organized in where things are and what they need to accomplish on a given day.

“A transportation director must be able to organize their time and prioritize their tasking,” says Michael Hush of Cherry Creek Schools in Greenwood Village, Colo. “They have to know how to say, ‘This has to wait,’ and use every tool available to get back to the task when they can.”

“Everything has its place, and either at the beginning or end of each day ... you need to straighten up the piles and put what you can away,” Colleen Murphy says. “We deal with so many items that are time- and safety-sensitive that not keeping good records will destroy your entire operation.”

37. Empowers Employees
It’s important that school bus drivers and other employees feel that they have a say and that they are contributing to the district’s mission.

“Let the drivers be involved in the decisions that affect them,” suggests Darryl Maas of North East (Pa.) School District.

Bill Wagner of Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis, Ariz., describes the concept as “people empowerment.”

“As a department that is established upon the goal of and dedicated to student accomplishment, I have developed a sense of pride in our drivers by instilling in them the idea that they are part of the big picture,” Wagner says. “I empower these drivers to express their ideas, concerns and desires that may have an impact our operation.”

38. Calm Demeanor
Great transportation directors keep their cool.

“The ability to remain calm when providing the rationale for not being able to meet a request is critical,” Hough says. “The well-thought-out response with policy and/or law references will keep the most uncomfortable situation from becoming unbearable.”

39. Patience
Along with staying calm, directors need patience for when things don’t go as planned or when dealing with difficult people.

“We must be patient and understanding of the needs of our customers,” says Gerald Rineer of Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pa.

Ken Phillips of Bay District Schools in Panama City, Fla., says that patience is an essential trait because “the job as transportation director will in fact test your tolerance and resolve.”

40. Fairness
Employees and customers need to know that the director of transportation will treat them fairly.

“The key is to not show anyone preference over another, whether it be a parent, student or employee,” says Charles Stroker of Van-Far School District in Vandalia, Mo.

“Drivers are watching the way we respond to certain situations, and they need to know there is no favoritism,” adds Fred Sindorf of Skokie (Ill.) School District 68.

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I just wanted to thank you for an article that defines every aspect of our Transportation Director, Mr. Raymond Shute! He is all that you have listed and so much more! I cannot imagine our department without his leadership! It is so nice to have a boss that makes me look forward to my job at RSU #3 in Thorndike, Maine every day!

Tammy    |    Jan 16, 2013 06:00 AM

I am also a School Bus Driver...and I must say that if our bus drivers' supervisor--right on up to the Director--make us absolutely hate coming to work. They lie... and will do everything they can to give drivers a negative attitude. This,to me, is unacceptable and shows no professionalism. How can this be? I don't think it helps the students in the Leon County FL area!!!

Anonymous    |    Nov 04, 2012 10:40 AM

Great article! I am a school bus driver for Lake Shore Central Schools in Angola, NY. Reading this I had a big smile on my face.... Because I can truly say my Supervisor Mr. Perry Oddi possess all of these qualities. Can any other driver truly say that about their Directors? I hope so. Because of the qualities he holds... makes me Love my job that much more! :) Thank You.

Victoria DeCarlo    |    Nov 02, 2012 07:12 AM

Outstanding article or should I say list. I would ad... Sense of Humor comes in handy every now and then :)

Lionel Pinn    |    Oct 25, 2012 06:57 AM

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