Joe Mirabella, director of pupil transportation at Cherry Creek School District in Englewood, Colo., was named SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s 1999 Administrator of the Year. SBF Editor Steve Hirano presented the award at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT’s) annual conference in Denver. Mirabella’s experience in the school transportation industry spans 20 years, during which he has not only run an exemplary school transportation system, but has also strengthened pupil transportation on the state and national level. Joe Glover, the recipient of the SBF award in 1997, describes Mirabella’s career as "impeccable." He adds, "Joe has always been very supportive and helpful, and he always has time to talk to anyone, whether it be a driver or a state director, about any question or problem they might have." Mirabella says he is thrilled to receive this award. "I’ve always looked at Administrator of the Year as a special type of award. The past winners are a prestigious group of people, and I feel honored to be a part of that." Glover described the award as "a crowning touch to one’s tenure as a director." For Mirabella, it will be just that. After 20 years, he’s planning to retire. "To me, it’s a nice end to a career to be recognized as someone who has contributed a lot to pupil transportation," he says.
Stands strong on issue
But it’s more than just running an exemplary school transportation operation that makes Joe Mirabella stand out. Throughout his career, he has taken a stance on controversial issues. In 1995, at the National Conference on School Transportation, he championed advertising on school buses, an unpopular cause. "I have just tried to campaign to open people’s minds to exploring the benefits of advertising and gaining revenues for their school districts," he says. The opposition argues that advertising could distract other motorists. Mirabella’s response — there’s no statistical evidence, one way or the other. Revenue from advertising, he reasons, could help to retire buses that have outlived their usefulness. "That enhances the safety for kids," Mirabella says.
Not about to disappear
Mirabella has been actively involved in the NAPT for the majority of his career, including time as chairman of the Professional Growth Committee. Even with his retirement next June, Mirabella isn’t quite ready to say goodbye. "I want to stay involved with pupil transportation," he says, "and also promote certification among people in my state, which I think I’ve effectively done over the years. We probably have some of the highest numbers of certified directors, driver trainees and pupil transportation specialists. I’m very proud of that."