Charley Kennington enjoys spending time with his three grandchildren, seen here at a zoo in east Texas this summer.
School Bus Transportation Program Administrator, Texas Department of Public Safety
Born: Odessa, Texas
Home: Lorena, Texas
Years in industry: 19
Notable previous jobs: Retail store manager (11 years with TG&Y, 4 years with Wal-Mart).
How did you get your start in the industry?
After I resigned from the Gonzales (Texas) Wal-Mart, the Gonzales superintendent of schools contacted me about applying as transportation director for the company that the school district was going to contract with. I started in that position for Durham in May 1986. I moved to Waco as transportation director in June 1988 and left Durham in July 1999 for my current job.
Current job duties?
As the Texas state director of school bus transportation, my two major functions are state school bus specifications and driver certification, in which more than 19,000 drivers are certified or recertified annually. I am an instructor of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Child Passenger Safety in School Bus” course, a presenter and board member for the Texas Operation Lifesaver, president of the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference, board member for the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, and advisory board member for the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers conference.
Top achievements in life?
I have four acres of land that I keep mowed, and I nurture the wildflowers so they come back each year. To do this with a riding mower was a lot of work, so I bought a 1947 Farmall B tractor. The engine needed to be overhauled so it would do what I needed. Those who really know me know that I am not a mechanic. But I completely overhauled the engine in about six months all by myself. Of course, I made a number of calls to my brother (he is a mechanic) so he could talk me through problems. It was a successful project, and I have used my tractor for three years since completing the overhaul.
I love spending time with my wife and my three grandchildren. I also love woodworking, genealogy, singing and playing guitar. This summer, we took the grandkids with us on a vacation to east Texas. One stop was the zoo in Tyler, Texas.
Most interesting place you’ve been?
I love seeing places where my ancestors have lived and built a life. But to pick a specific place, it would have to be Niagara Falls. It is awesome to see that much water in one place and still flowing after all these years. Remember that I was raised in the panhandle of Texas, so this much moving water should fascinate me.
Strangest job you’ve had?
My dad was in the oil field business, and I worked as a relief pumper for him starting at age 16 so he could have the weekends off or take vacations. I did this while working at TG&Y as a stock boy.
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