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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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Katie Scholes says the most rewarding aspect of overseeing her company is observing the love the employees have toward the children they transport.
<p>Katie Scholes says the most rewarding aspect of overseeing her company is observing the love the employees have toward the children they transport.</p>

Katie Scholes
Founder and President
The Provider Enterprises Inc.
Brentwood, N.H.

How did you get your start in the industry?
In 1981, my daughter Jennifer was diagnosed with severe congenital heart disease. At the age of 4, she was non-verbal and needed to go to sign language classes. There were no regulations on special-education transportation, so for a year I volunteered to transport Jennifer and several other children to their programs. The following year, I started to contract with the school.

What are your current job duties?
I work on contracts, promote our services at conferences and keep the culture of our business alive by speaking with new employees, telling our story and sharing the history of special needs.

What has been most challenging and/or rewarding about founding and overseeing your company?
The most challenging aspect of growing the business was not knowing [certain things]. As an example, I went the first year in business with no workers’ compensation insurance. I thought it was part of our auto insurance.

The most rewarding aspect is observing the love our employees have toward the children they transport. They believe that as a bus driver they can make a profound difference in a child’s life.

What are some of your outside interests?
Playing tennis, yoga, creating mosaics and gardening.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Most people are surprised to learn that from the ages of 13 to 16, I lived in a cloistered convent in preparation to become a nun.

Have you noticed growth in the number of women working in leadership positions since you started in the industry?
I do believe that there are far more women working in leadership positions in the busing industry today than ever before.

I attribute this partly to the fact that women start driving a bus when their children are young and then grow within the industry into leadership positions.

I also believe this scenario best prepares leaders to understand the challenges of the industry.

What do you find most interesting about working in pupil transportation?
What I find most interesting is the evolution of the industry. What worked five years ago is no longer cutting edge. One must always be prepared to grow with the latest technology. Every day is a new challenge and a new adventure.


Carlyn Wessel says she started teaching busdriver safety training classes because her best friend was run over by a school bus while the two were in grade school.
<p>Carlyn Wessel says she started teaching bus<br />driver safety training classes because her best friend was run over by a school bus while the two were in grade school.</p>

Carlyn Wessel
School Bus Driver Trainer
Iowa Department of Education
Des Moines, Iowa

How did you get your start in the industry?
My career in school transportation began in 1969, with Linn-Mar Community School District. I started as a secretary in the transportation office. After working in the office several months, I took all the tests and became a bus driver as well. In 1988, I became the transportation director.

I also started as a school bus driver trainer in the ’80s and continued to do that even after I retired from the transportation director position in 2002.

What are your current job duties?
Besides teaching the three-hour annual training for all the experienced drivers, I teach the three-hour face-to-face STOP class for new drivers after they complete an online course.

Max Christensen, our executive officer at the Iowa Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation, does a great job of giving us topics that need to be discussed with the drivers, such as handling bullying, school shootings, cell phone use and other distractions that drivers may have to deal with while driving a bus.

I have continued teaching the classes because bus drivers are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet, and I enjoy going to the area schools to see the drivers each year.

Also, I know that I started teaching the safety classes because of my experience in grade school. My best friend was run over by the bus I was riding. This experience left a lasting impact on me as to how quickly something can happen if you do not focus on making sure everyone is clear of the bus, and it is something I would tell the schoolchildren when I was the director of transportation. I also tell the drivers in my classes to make sure they can see all the students who get off their buses.

What are some of your outside interests?
In my spare time I enjoy traveling — I have been to all 50 states. I enjoy my grandchildren, and I also enjoy gardening and reading. I work part time in a tax office January through April.

What is the best advice someone has given you?
The best advice I ever received was from my mother: Treat people the same as you would want to be treated.

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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


Ralph Knight    |    Oct 24, 2013 08:13 AM

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