MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Workshops held here on Monday as part of the annual National Association for Pupil Transportation conference covered inspirational topics.
The day kicked off with a stimulating keynote presentation by Jon Gordon, a motivational speaker and author of The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy.
During the presentation, Gordon relayed several of those rules (“stay positive” and “focus on gratitude rather than stress” were among them) and provided attendees with tips to create positive energy in their lives, and a positive work environment for their employees.
“Inspire your drivers and let them know that they have the power to make a difference in people’s lives. Engage your team,” Gordon said.
A mid-morning session featuring Derek Graham, section chief of transportation services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and Ken Hedgecock of Thomas Built Buses — “Love the Bus 2009” — was infused with the type of positive energy Gordon so passionately advocated during his presentation.
Graham and Hedgecock discussed the challenges pupil transportation officials face and shared how the American School Bus Council (ASBC) is working to alleviate these challenges through its mission and goals. These goals include educating parents, school officials and lawmakers about the essential role school buses play in the safety and security of schoolchildren; increasing school bus ridership; and securing federal funding for pupil transportation services.
Graham and Hedgecock said that the council is working with a marketing and communications firm to help achieve its education and advocacy goals, but they emphasized the importance of educating people at the “grassroots” level as well. “Educating the public builds their confidence in the entire school transportation system,” Graham said.
Moreover, he explained that the ASBC’s “Love the Bus” program, which will begin on Feb. 14 next year, provides school districts with an excellent opportunity to educate people at this level, as it is a unique way to showcase school bus safety. It also helps promote school bus driver appreciation.
Student involvement plays a key role in this program. Graham said that students in North Carolina have exhibited their driver appreciation by creating valentines and personalized valentine cardholders for them and by posting magnetic Love the Bus lips on the drivers’ buses.
Transportation administrators are also encouraged to participate in the program. Graham and attendees mentioned that holding a group breakfast or lunch for drivers or filling in for them behind the wheel and rewarding them with a day off for a job well done are effective ways to recognize drivers for their hard work.
Finally, Graham stressed the benefits of alerting local media about Love the Bus activities. “If you can get the media involved in your Love the Bus events, you can really get the word out about bus safety to parents and the public,” he said.