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October 24, 2013  |   Comments (7)   |   Post a comment

14 phenomenal women in school transportation

In this new feature, we spotlight dedicated women from around the nation ranging from school bus drivers, trainers and administrative assistants to bus company executives, directors of transportation and state directors whose work helps to keep students safe.

by SBF staff


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Kathy Houck says she is proud of her role in helping to create a positive, caring and customer service-oriented atmosphere at her transportation department.
<p>Kathy Houck says she is proud of her role in helping to create a positive, caring and customer service-oriented atmosphere at her transportation department.</p>

Kathy Houck
Transportation Supervisor
Reynolds School District
Fairview, Ore.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I started as a part-time bus driver. I was looking for full-time employment but loved the job so much that I decided to stay.

What are your current job duties?
I supervise 113 employees and oversee 89 bus routes. My major responsibility is making sure the department is providing excellent customer service.


What are your top professional achievements?
Helping to create a positive, caring and customer service-oriented atmosphere at our department, with the assistance of a wonderful staff.

Also, development of training focused on positive student management that supports education. If drivers can resolve bus behavior issues, then kids stay in the classroom learning, rather than in a principal’s office.

What are some of your interests outside of work?
I love to read! I also serve on the Reynolds Education Foundation Board.

In addition, several staff members and I support Snowcap, a local charity, boxing food to deliver to our schools for children in our district who are hungry.

What is the best advice someone has given you?
You don’t have to “invent the wheel” — you can steal others’ great ideas.

Tell us about your involvement with the Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA).  
I am currently OPTA’s state board executive secretary. OPTA is such a valuable organization. They supply excellent training and support for bus drivers, driver trainers and supervisors in Oregon. Most of my ideas for improvements come from classes or casual conversations with colleagues associated with OPTA.

Have you noticed growth in the number of women in leadership positions in the industry?
Yes, I believe many women started as drivers and grew up in the industry with a true passion for school transportation.

What do you find most interesting about working in school transportation?
I love the children. They are fascinating. Anything I can do to assist drivers to realize what a vital role they can play in a child’s life is exciting.


 

Kim Large was recently honored by the Orange County Board of Education as the Classified School Employee of the Year for transportation, a recognition she says was very humbling.
<p>Kim Large was recently honored by the Orange County Board of Education as the Classified School Employee of the Year for transportation, a recognition she says was very humbling.</p>

Kim Large
Early Shift Dispatcher/Scheduler
Newport-Mesa Unified School District
Costa Mesa, Calif.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was a stay-at-home mom, and I thought it was time to help financially so that my husband could work less and spend more time with the family.

I went to the school district where my kids went to school. They weren’t hiring bus drivers at the time (imagine that). Two years later, in 1998, an opening for bus driver trainee appeared. I applied and got the job.

What started as a part-time job has become a wonderful career.

What are your current job duties?
Dispatching, scheduling, working closely with special education, and managing and coordinating all kinds of resources.

What are your top professional achievements?
In April, I was awarded the Orange County Board of Education’s Classified School Employee of the Year for transportation. This honor was very humbling since there are more than 1,000 dedicated transportation employees in Orange County.

What are some of your outside interests?
Some of my interests are participating in all sports, especially volleyball and tennis, and my newest sport is golf.

I also love deep sea fishing. I do crafts, cooking, gardening and bike riding to relax.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am captivated by harmonica music for some unknown reason.

What is the best advice someone has given you?
My director and operations supervisor convinced me that I could still make a difference — in fact a much bigger difference — in the lives of kids by working as a cover driver and eventually as a dispatcher.

Even on really “bad” days, I haven’t regretted the decision to follow that advice.

What do you find most interesting about working in pupil transportation?
I have come to realize that it really takes a team to serve our students properly. We play a large, important role in developing the next generation, and there are so many partnerships we have to build and maintain to make it work.

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Read more about: First Student Inc., NAPT, NSTA

Finally, recognition for the fabulous women making student transportation customer friendly and improving safety. It's about time First Student has a female leader

Anonymous    |    Dec 28, 2013 08:36 AM

Congrats to all the well-deserving and hard working women recognized in your article. I have had the personal honor of working for Mrs. Kathy Houck and can categorically state that above her gender, she is a phenomenal leader of people.

Lionel Pinn    |    Dec 12, 2013 03:43 PM

I am very proud to tell folks I am a school bus driver, I live in a small community and have 36-50 student on my bus. Thank you ladies for being great role models to us and for going that extra mile. Keep up the great work! Our transportation supervisor is Mr. Todd Naylor and though he is a male I feel extremely safe and confident that our buses and routes are safe. I teach bus safety at our school so any new ideas you have to share is always appreciated. So proud to be in this bus family in Davie County NC.

Susan athey    |    Dec 10, 2013 07:40 PM

Congratulations to Wilma Crabtree, Kansas is indeed lucky to have her. She is always willing and beyond able to assist anyone who asked. She is one of the greatest in the school bus industry.

Kim Grandon    |    Dec 10, 2013 12:57 PM

@ Miss Diana Hollander, Let me answer that.... It is your love and passion for the industry, your down to earth qualities when communicating with others. You wear these qualities on your sleeve. Perhaps these make you a Phenomenal Woman!

Victoria DeCarlo    |    Nov 07, 2013 07:40 AM

Thank you for naming me one of the 14 Phenomenal Women in School Transportation in your November issue. I'm not sure what I've done to receive such an honor! Although I don't know all these women, some of them I do and feel honored to be considered one of them! Thanks for the nomination and nice article and for recognizing all the fabulous women who work in school transportation every day!

Diana Hollander    |    Nov 05, 2013 02:53 PM

WAY TO GO LADIES.....GREAT JOB!!

Ralph Knight    |    Oct 24, 2013 08:13 AM

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