As the education system evolves, so does the way students get to and from school. From electric buses to alternative transportation platforms, the school transportation industry is in a constant state of innovation. But who is leading the charge?
In this inaugural School Bus Fleet feature, we shine a spotlight on trailblazing school transportation professionals who are under the age of 40 and are making a significant impact on the industry.
These young professionals are challenging the status quo and introducing new ideas that are improving student safety, efficiency, and comfort. They come from diverse backgrounds, including transportation engineering, technology, and education, and are leveraging their unique experiences to create positive change.
From developing cutting-edge routing software to implementing sustainable transportation practices, these trailblazers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the school transportation industry. They are passionate about their work and committed to making a difference in the lives of students and families.
Join School Bus Fleet as we highlight the stories of these remarkable young professionals – our 2023 Trailblazers - who are driving innovation in school transportation and setting the stage for the future of the industry.
Corey Muirhead, Logan Bus Co. Inc. and Affiliates, 33
Role: Executive Vice President
“Every day is different for me. Of course, I have my routine: checking in with operations, finance, safety; cleaning up my inbox; and working on outstanding projects. But how I found the beauty in my job is that every day is truly distinctly different. One day may be very labor-focused working on CBAs or driver recruitment strategies, then the next I will be working on charging infrastructure and site feasibility studies for ESBs, then the next day I may be working on contract-extension agreements with municipalities, then the next day I may be working on strategic planning for risk-management best practices. I enjoy what I do so much because there are so many ‘tentacles’ in a school bus business and I am passionate about engaging with them all.”
Read the full Q&A with Corey Muirhead.
Keith Adams, Billings Public Schools, 34
Role: Transportation Director
“My advice is that this industry is full of opportunities and growth potential for a proactive person with a strong work ethic who can approach every day with integrity and a level head. While there are daily problems that will naturally arise, many can be handled easily and even avoided proactively if the right plans, procedures and technology are put in place. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are thousands of districts around the country that have experienced the same problems you will face every day and many times technology companies that have created solutions specifically to address those problems. The other transportation directors around the country who I have reached out to have given me great information and always pointed me in the right direction. Most of all, for someone who is looking for a rewarding career, I would share that ensuring the students of your community have safe, friendly and reliable transportation to and from school each day is extremely important to the community and equally as rewarding for you.”
Andy Moore, Blue Bird Corporation, 36
Role: Director, EV Strategy
“One of the things that constantly amazes me is how much pride people take in being in this industry. From our teammates at Blue Bird to the drivers and transportation directors I’ve met, everyone has a story to tell. We have employees that have been working here their entire careers, 40 to 50 years, and I know there isn’t a retired bus driver out there who can’t tell you exactly what model and year buses they drove. I think it goes back to the fundamental mission of keeping children safe that is so easy to take pride in. When people are proud of their work, it goes into their job performance and the quality of the product – our engineering, manufacturing, and testing process is rigorous and completed by talented professionals who are ‘all in’ and understand the seriousness of our mission.”
Read the full Q&A with Andy Moore.
Makenzi Prather, First Light Safety Products, 29
Role: Regional Account Executive
“Don't be afraid to jump right in! I was nervous to get started in a new industry but it was a very easy transition. Everyone is so patient and eager to share their knowledge with others. I have yet to meet someone who hasn't be willing to help if I ask them. Every day is different, so you'll never be bored. I can speak from experience: the rewards far outweigh the risk of making the leap.”
Katie Stok, Navistar/IC Bus, 38
Role: Segment Marketing
“The people (brought me to this industry). Simple as that. I spent a lot of time working in transportation as a whole and I've always had great relationships with my customers, but the school bus industry is incredibly unique. I heard about 'the people' from others when I made the move to IC Bus, and it didn't take long for me to understand it. This industry is a family and we all have a strong common bond in that we are responsible for the safety of the most precious cargo and getting them to school on time daily. Whether a rookie or a 30-year veteran of the industry - we have that unified goal and it brings us together. I love it!”
Read the full Q&A with Katie Stok.
Tyler Bryan, Delaware Department of Education, 37
Role: Education Associate, School Transportation
“I have always had a love and passion for the school bus industry since I was young, and I bleed school bus yellow. I started working in the local school district’s transportation office when I was in high school, followed by getting my bus license as soon as I turned 18 and driving the last half of my senior year of high school. I worked for a contractor for five years until I got my own bus contract and then drove for myself before selling when I became the Transportation Supervisor for the local district. After six years of being the local Transportation Supervisor, I became the Education Associate for School Transportation for the Delaware Department of Education, overseeing transportation for the state. I love what I do each day and ensuring we get students to school safely each day.”
Andrew Gardner, Gardian Angel LLC, 37
Role: Marketing Director
“A mere sketch in 2010 at the family dinner table led me into the world of student transportation. My father, a former school bus mechanic and fleet maintenance supervisor, finished watching the news station where he learned a local teenager was hit and killed by a motorist as she was crossing the street to board her school bus. This tragedy rattled my dad so much that he made a sketch that very evening of a proactive solution to illegal passing so that no child would ever encounter that horrible fate. He showed me the idea of his new safety invention and I loved it. He called it the Gardian Angel. I offered my skills in marketing to assist with this endeavor and helped grow the business from inception with my Dad.”
Roger Izzi, Student Transportation of America, 38
Role: Director of Safety, Central Region
“The transportation industry is a people-based business. Unless you are willing to accept that early on then this isn't the line of work for you. Our drivers, technicians, monitors, and staff work very hard to provide a safe and reliable means of transportation for our passengers. The primary focus must be on safety, our passengers, the parents, the school districts and the general public at all times.”
Carrie Jansen, Marion Independent School District, 30
Role: Bus Driver/Trainer
“If you greet your students every day, get to know them and show them you care about them, it will create a positive culture on your bus. The kids will be more responsible and respectful if they feel that you care about them.”
Arjun Nair, Daimler Trucks North America/Thomas Built Buses, 37
Role: Manager, eVehicles and Infrastructure Consulting
“I was very proud to learn how school transportation is impacting the lives of so many children. The school bus enables them to be in class and have access to nutrition that helps them grow into amazing people. When COVID hit us, I was amazed to learn how critical the school bus was to deliver meals and, in many cases, access to internet (with the Wi-Fi access points) which helped the kids continue to grow physically and mentally.”
Read the full Q&A with Arjun Nair.
Adam Brown, Spirit Lake Community Schools, 24
Role: Transportation Supervisor
“Mistakes will be made but to adapt and overcome is a big thing to learn to do. Last minute things are always showing up and machines always break so you have to be flexible.”
Patrick Dean, Dean Transportation, 37
“Relationships built on trust and respect are essential. The student transportation industry and public-school systems are more complex than they may seem. Often, we work through complex challenges that may have multiple solutions. Establishing working relationships built on trust and respect will lead to positive collaboration and results for our students.”
Read the full Q&A with Patrick Dean.
Austin Farriss, East Union/Murray/Creston Central School, 24
Role: Transportation Director
“I have always had an interest in the school transportation industry. It started in high school when I was washing buses and helping the mechanic some to get community service. After I graduated, I got training in diesel technology and I became a school bus mechanic for a couple of different schools. In the spring of 2022, I interviewed and was offered the job as transportation director shared with two schools and I accepted. In October, we decided to share with a third school.”
David Poag, Anderson School District Five, 37
Role: Assistant Director of Transportation
“My workday begins at 5:45 in the morning on the bus lot with approximately 100 amazing and talented pupil transportation professionals. As I arrive on bus lot, I find bus drivers and safety assistants greeting each other to start their day. It's a great time to see everyone in the mornings and be available for questions, concerns, or often jokes. The main part of my day is spent in the office handling anything from parent concerns, driver questions, or student management-related incidents. I enjoy visiting schools in the afternoons during dismissal time to be present with staff and see the students. I drive occasionally and intentionally to stay as close to the driver’s seat as possible. It's very important to me to understand what our drivers and safety assistants experience on a daily basis so I can relate to them and parents when situations arise.”
Weston Bartlett, Tyler Technologies, 34
Role: Manager, Account Executive Team
“In 2015, I was working as a Teacher/Coach/Administrator and the district I was at was looking to fill an administrative role in transportation. I was known to be a hard-working problem solver and I was eager to move into operations. With all that said I had little knowledge of the industry outside of the CDL in my back pocket and the knowledge that if you don't sweep the bus after you take baseball out of town the driver will find you and possibly kill you. In my new role I soon found a community of professionals willing to support me and help me improve student safety. I spent my first year on Google maps and on my knees praying it all went right. I can honestly say that it was a little divine intervention that brought me to the industry and I am grateful every day that somehow I ended up in this great industry working to make a difference in students’ lives.”
Read the full Q&A with Weston Bartlett.
Arnoldo Adaire, Zum Services, 30
Role: Senior Maintenance Manager
“You really have to pay attention to detail. Make sure you are clear-headed every day at work. It only takes one thing to cause a domino effect, so you have to give it 100%. This job is about keeping kids safe.”
Kyle Carrier, Richland School District, 34
Role: Assistant Transportation Director
“I originally started out with an interest in nursing but found that it wasn't quite my wheelhouse. I started working for a school district in 2010 and fell in love with it, knowing that there are staff who are the first and last to make an impact in students’ lives. I observed many great drivers make connections with "their kids" on the bus. In 2016, I stepped up and took it upon myself to put myself through a Pupil Transportation Management Training Program in conjunction with a local university and state transportation association and in 2022, our state's Driver Instructor Training Course to become a driver trainer.”
Read the full Q&A with Kyle Carrier.
Sunny Hudson, Van Buren Intermediate School District, 27
Role: Assistant Transportation Director
“Prepare to be on your toes, and get curve balls thrown at you. To be able to think quick on your feet. Be confident and know your facts and laws.”
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