QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — A school district transportation department here hosted its first event to share more information with the public in its transportation building, recently named for longtime director Edd Hennerley.
The Queen Creek Unified School District invited parents, students, and other community members to attend an open house in its transportation department facilities on July 18. Attendees were able to board and check out new buses, view a presentation of school transportation events that included pictures of the drivers, and learn about bus safety while reviewing student transportation policies and tips.
A quick tour through the maintenance and operations areas provided insight into the fast-paced decision-making that transportation staffers must perform on a daily basis. There was also a question-and-answer period, and attendees had the opportunity to meet Hennerley and Marsha Stones, transportation supervisor.
Then, staff members led groups of attendees through the office area to show them where the bus routing is done, the shop, and the different types of buses, including four new Thomas Built Type D buses that the district took delivery of in May, and gave quick bus rides to those who were interested. The driver shared information about the various systems on a bus, such as the air conditioning, electrical system, hydraulic system, and radio communications systems, and explained why they are critical to the operation.
The goal of the event was to show attendees the connection between the transportation department and the rest of the school district, Hennerley said.
“Parents meet the teacher, the principal, and the counselors, but [haven’t met anyone in] transportation,” he pointed out. “They had a chance to meet a lot of people they have talked to on the phone but have never put a face to. We thought there might be an interest in the public to better understand how and why transportation does what it does.”
The event drew over 100 people and was well-received, Hennerley said. Many attendees even took photos with the staff.
“We didn’t know if we would get anybody, but we had a good group,” he added.
The department plans to put on a similar event next year to maintain public awareness. Every attendee said they would come back next year and bring their friends and neighbors with them, because it was an eye-opening experience, Hennerley said.
“Most of the public never hears from us unless we call them about a discipline problem on a bus, because I handle that from my office,” he explained. “This gave them a chance to hear from us when the news is good. They really appreciated that.”
Additionally, the district named its transportation department building after Hennerley on May 16. The transportation building was officially named the Edd Hennerley Transportation Facility for his more than 20 years of contribution to the administration, staff, parents, and students of the school district.
“It was a huge honor. I feel so privileged,” Hennerley said.
Hennerley began his school transportation career as a part-time substitute school bus driver in Delavan, Wisconsin. In 1987, he moved to Phoenix, and was hired by the Madison School District as director, moving to the same position in 1994 with the Washington School District. In 1996, Hennerley was hired as transportation supervisor for Queen Creek. When he started, he had only nine school buses; today that fleet has grown to more than 87 buses, according to Stephanie Ingersoll, public relations and marketing specialist for the school district.
Hennerley was honored in a recent awards ceremony for serving on numerous district task forces and committees that helped to streamline and improve many areas of the district.
He is also known as a director who treats employees as part of his extended family. During Christmas time, Hennerley deep-fries turkeys for his employees, and at a year-end banquet, he can be seen cooking hot dogs and hamburgers as he recognizes employees who went above and beyond their job duties. As a result, Hennerley has extremely low turnover in a department made up of mostly part-time employees, according to Ingersoll.