- Photo by Brad West via Unsplash

Photo by Brad West via Unsplash

It’s that time of year again, when we should take the time to appreciate what we have, rather than dwelling so much on what we *want*.

And this Thanksgiving season I feel a debt of gratitude to the many School Bus Fleet readers who submitted nominations for 2021’s Administrator of the Year. Thanks to you, we had a cornucopia of choices from all across the United States, coast to coast.

Ultimately, we selected Wayne Reese, who manages transportation services for two school districts in a Utah valley. You can read all about him and the work he’s done in this issue of the magazine, and an expanded version is available on our website.

But in this space, I’d like to share some honorable mentions that merit recognition:

Tom Cohn – Helena Public Schools (Helena, Mont.)

A staunch advocate for school bus safety, Cohn made a name for himself leading the charge for implementing lap-shoulder belts on school buses, even appearing once on a Montana PBS documentary about the topic. He’s been a transportation administrator since 2002, but his responsibilities have expanded in recent years to include supervision of the district’s buildings, grounds, and construction. He’s also championed the addition of new technology, such as GPS, student ridership management, and on-vehicle tablets.

James Hanna – Rossville Consolidated School District (Rossville, Ind.)

Hanna, superintendent of this small district in central Indiana with K-12 students together under one roof, has been at the forefront of student safety here for 21 years. He manages route assignments, designates drivers, and maintains student changes using technology. But what really caught my eye, as a tabletop and computer game nerd, was his use of a tabletop exercise via Zoom in 2021 in which he engaged the state police department, sheriff’s office, emergency management services, school leaders, town marshals, and fire departments to simulate response to a school bus accident.

Bill Harvey – Honeoye Falls Lima Central School District (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.)

The buses kept rolling in Harvey’s Fingerlakes region school district throughout the 2020-21 school year thanks to his management and coordination efforts. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools shut down and transportation stood still, Harvey held Zoom meetings with staff and shared regular updates. His input proved vital at the local and state level when the time came to develop back-to-school plans.

Tim Purvis – Poway Unified School District (San Diego County, Cali.)

Long ago, he dreamed of working as a high school teacher, but took a job driving a school bus to pay for college expenses. Eventually, his ambitions shifted to working on the business side of school district operations. In 2001, he became Poway’s transportation director. He’s a technology advocate, embracing efficient fleet management solutions

Rebecca “Becky” Rora – Marion County Public Schools (Ocala, Fla.)

Overseeing a school district in a county larger than the state of Rhode Island, Rora has been a force in Marion County for more than 20 years. Besides managing 300 people on 275 daily routes, she coordinates evacuation efforts when hurricanes threaten and then sees evacuees home when the danger passes. As COVID-19 shut down schools, Rora got a team of drivers to deliver nearly 500,000 meals to students and families over nine weeks. As schools reopened, she persuaded the local school board to create temporary part-time positions with higher pay to bring in drivers during summer school.

Todd Watkins – Montgomery County Public Schools (Rockville, Md.)

In early 2021, Watkins – transportation director for Maryland’s largest school district – committed Montgomery County to a path toward full electrification of its 1,400 bus fleet by 2035, with the first 20 buses rolling out this fall. The conversion is expected to save at least 60,000 short tons of greenhouse gases and prevent 280,000 pounds of nitric oxide emissions. He has worked to educate others about the benefits and hurdles involved in making the shift to an electric bus fleet.

At School Bus Fleet, we appreciate the dedication and innovation demonstrated by all these nominees and the people who are privileged enough to work with them.

Author

Wes Platt
Wes Platt

Executive Editor

Wes Platt joined Bobit in 2021 as executive editor of School Bus Fleet Magazine.

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Wes Platt joined Bobit in 2021 as executive editor of School Bus Fleet Magazine.

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