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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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41. Gives Credit
Gary Thomsen of Evergreen Public Schools says that “when employees feel appreciated and recognized, everything else will fall into place.” He recommends developing employee recognition programs, such as safety and attendance awards.

Adds Kevin Snowden of Shelby County (Ala.) Schools: “Always use praise, and [give] credit to whom credit is due.”

42. Decisiveness
Great transportation directors make decisions for the betterment of the department without reservations, Phillips says.

Michael Dallessandro of Niagara Wheatfield CSD in Niagara Falls, N.Y., notes that the ability to make decisions quickly is vital in some cases.

“Often a decision has to be made, and there is not much time to do it since our buses are often ‘moving’ while they are awaiting an answer,” Dallessandro says.

43. Visibility
Transportation directors need to be seen. One effective way to do this, Thomsen says, is to “greet your employees every morning if at all possible.”

Jeff Walker of Litchfield Elementary School District #79 in Litchfield Park, Ariz., adds that “being visible and accessible to your staff can make or break your department. When the drivers see the director out on the road and in school loading zones observing, they are much more apt to follow the safety rules.”  

44. Creativity
In times when the demand for student transportation is increasing while resources are shrinking, successful directors get creative.

“Transportation directors must be able to creatively determine ways to cut costs, improve efficiency and increase training effectiveness with limited budgets,” says Bryan Huber of Rockingham County (Va.) Schools.

45. Consistency
Don Ross of the School District of Manatee County (Fla.) says that whatever the topic or challenge, a great director “always is consistent with the direction of the department.”

46. Positivity
Great transportation leaders set a positive tone for their department, says Marie Espinoza of San Bernardino (Calif.) City USD.

Adds Tony Briscoe of Moorpark (Calif.) USD: “If you are positive and professional, your employees and your facility will be positive and professional.”

47. Sense of Direction
Directors must be strong with direction — in the geographical sense.

“You must have a knack for understanding maps and a good sense of direction,” says Todd Scott of Beavercreek (Ohio) City Schools. “You will be asked to save fuel, time, and make routes that flow and are seemingly effortless.”

48. Honesty
Andy Martin of School District U-46 in Elgin, Ill., says that honesty “builds and maintains trust with the communities, staff, fellow administrators throughout the organization and industry colleagues.”

Michele Drorbaugh of Seattle Public Schools adds that transportation directors must “never deceive the staff.”

49. High Ethical Standards
Similarly, great transportation directors are ethical.

Dale Fambrough of the School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.) says that means the director “does the right things at all times and does not circumvent any policies [or] state or federal guidelines.”

50. Community Involvement
Serving as a resource in the community can help transportation directors grow support for the yellow bus.

Gannon recommends taking advantage of opportunities to get involved in planning committees for public transportation or emergency preparedness, assisting first responders in training and having “a voice in community issues.”    

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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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